Jesus tells us that we are to die to ourselves and in doing so we will find life. Preachers preach this and we all hear the words. Some of us even nod our heads when we hear it because we affirm this and know it to be true.
The message of dying to self cannot happen these days very much because most of our Christian faith is working hard to look coo.
We want buildings that look modern and sleek. We want our leaders to be young and hip. We want a tidy message with slick publicity that advertises the weeks "message". We want to be seen as a place that has answers and is really "nice". We avoid conflict (more people leave the church when they are angry than seem to stay and work toward reconciliation). We avoid being uncomfortable (even to the point of complaint if the sanctuary is too hot/cold). We make our spiritual growth a priority when we find it convenient and there is nothing else to do. We desire the church to be in service of our needs first. We ensure membership has "perks" like reduced rates for weddings. We allow our children to choose to be apart of religion but not formal education.
I could go on, but the point is we as a religion are generally working to ensure that church is a cool place to be. And this may very well be why the UMC has no idea or interest to be evangelistic with our faith.
We could come off looking like "those crazy Christians you see on TV". Or worse we could come off looking dorky, nerdy, or uncool.
In our efforts to be "relevant" what we really are saying is we want our church to be "cool". So, in a effort to be relevant we discard anything that might not be trendy, because let's face it if it is not trendy it is not relevant.
The perhaps the UMC biggest hurdle to sustainable growth is not our mission statements or lack of theological rigor or our in ability to retain clergy, but we Christians are very concerned about how cool we come off.
When we are more interested in inviting people to events than to relationships of meaning, we are worried about cool.
Die to self? How about we just die to cool to start with?