October 15th edition of the United Methodist Reporter had two articles which I thought great for me to consider. One has to do with the need for mentors written by Andrew Thompson. This article connects with the work that the Elisha Advocates (you can find the group page on Facebook. You can also find the evolving “Visioning Document” as well as the evolving “Theological Underpinning”) are attempting to do in the Central Texas Conference.
However, this post is not about Thompson’s article, but about Dan Dick’s article entitled “Message from UM laity: teach Christian essentials”. Dick’s argues that what he has heard from laity over the past 20 years is that “Prayer, stewardship, evangelism and Bible are not being taught in our churches.”
I am not sure what this really means. Does this mean churches are really not teaching these areas or is what is being taught not understood or is what is being taught not what we want to hear?
I cannot image a UMC congregation not pray in worship or at meetings or gatherings of any sort. It is my assumption that prayers are heartfelt and meaningful. It is my assumption that prayers are rooted in our ground of being and that they attempt to express the deepest parts of the human soul, but maybe I am mistaken.
I cannot image a UMC congregation not talk about stewardship each year, at the very least a stewardship of finances. It is my assumption that the growing awareness of stewardship of our resources, time, energy, money and the like are addressed in the life of the congregation each week through the collection of tithes and offerings. It my assumption that we do not have committees of “Finance” or “trustees” but committees of “Stewardship of finances” or “Stewardship of space”, but maybe I am mistaken.
I cannot image a congregation not engaging in evangelism, sharing Good News, through the lives of the community members. I assume that we are as excited to be in conversation around the water cooler talking about how we are being transformed each day by Grace and Love as we are to talk about the Kardashians or the Dallas Cowboys. I assume we are inviting people to engage God with the same tenacity and excitement when we are throwing a Super Bowl Party or Bridal shower, but maybe I am mistaken.
I cannot imagine a UMC congregation not talking about the four areas at some point. Each Sunday Scripture is read and the Word proclaimed. It is my assumption that preachers are not giving three stories and a poem in the Proclamation. It is my assumption that preachers cannot help but be open to the Spirit working through Scripture, but maybe I am mistaken.
I am not perfect by any means and I am willing to take my share of the fault on the UMC’s lack of making these four areas less vague. I am even willing to say the lay knowledge and interaction with these four areas reflect, in part, clergy’s knowledge and interaction of these areas. It is my prayer that any community for which I am connected with will have these four bedrocks of the Faith. Additionally I will, with my prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, do my best to make sure these are present.
Will you join me?