I grew up in a very United Methodist home. Going to Christ United Methodist Church in Alliance on Sunday was never in question. Dad was the Lay Leader for our church, my brothers and I did Sunday School, UMYF, various choirs and projects. We earned our Eagle Scout Award from the church’s boy scout troop. We were in it deep. But we were in a United Methodist silo. Other than going to Camp Wanake the United Methodist didn’t exist beyond the corner of Arch and Broadway.
Oh, and we thought that we were the Christ United….Methodist Church. Not the Christ….United Methodist Church.
Then at age 32 I went to work for what was then the Berea Children’s Home. In my first few months my boss gave me United Methodist orientation. I was surprised to learn that we had a bishop, and districts and superintendents over those districts. I grew up 15 minutes from Copeland Oaks and had no idea that it was connected to us.
For those of us deep in the United Methodist system, last week’s General Conference was devastating. Yesterday at my church in Strongsville I talked of the pain and anguish I felt as we as a church voted to further disenfranchise LGBTQIA+ and the impact this can have, especially with younger generations.
But as much as we are focused on this, many in our congregations are not. Many, perhaps most, are in their silos.
I’m also reminded of the words of Bishop Tracy Malone, for whom I am so grateful at times like these.
“Keep the main thing the main thing.”
If your church’s main thing is taking foster kids to camp, keep that your main thing. Nothing we did in St. Louis will keep you from doing that. If your main thing is children’s programs, a food pantry, Upwards Basketball, tutoring elementary school kids who are at risk, feeding kids in the summer when school cafeterias are closed, housing homeless families, whatever your main thing is, keep doing it.
Keep the main thing the main thing.
I am confident that we can get the General Conference thing figured out. We simply have to.
I believe in the Connection, I believe that as 800 churches linked together we can do great things. If you don’t believe me take a field trip to the Urban Mission in Steubenville or Flat Rock Care Center.
We have 61 weeks between now and General Conference 2020. Can your church find 61 lives your church has changed and invite those people to share their stories? Can you find 61 ministries to celebrate? Where does your church write checks for mission? Where does it send volunteers? What are the ministries in your church?
I challenge you to spend five minutes at the beginning of each and every of the next 61 Sundays celebrating the Main Thing.