“Now, tell me the name of the church where you are the pastor?”
Recently, in a subsequent conversation with a neighbor, they asked me that question. I was a bit embarrassed to admit to them that I didn’t “invite” them to church because I didn’t want to be pushy in our first conversation. I didn’t want them to think I was trying to “convert” them right off the bat!
As we continued discussing church, they shared with me that they hadn’t been to church since they were teenagers. Now, in retirement and after moving to a new area, they were willing to try it.
Their formative years were spent in a Lutheran church, and then, after a family move, they began worshiping at a Methodist church.
“I told my friends, ‘This is “lazy church.” Nothing like what I’m used to with all the getting up, kneeling, standing, sitting, kneeling, standing . . .’ Now, tell me, when do you worship? I’d love to come!”
I pictured them at West.
The dark room.
The cozy seats don’t have a kneeling rail in front of them.
No fancy pulpit (that’s the thing that lots of preachers stand behind in a traditional church).
Songs at the beginning (with really, not a lot of people singing!)
No “church stuff” like creeds, etc.
BUT . . . . an amazing connectional spirit . . .that you really can’t miss if you are there either in person or online!
“If you think that moving from a Lutheran church to a Methodist church was “lazy church” 40 years ago if you come to West, you’ll think we’re all but a blackout stupor.”
But man . . . . what an amazing “blackout stupor” West is.
Church, and religion, are not what it was 40 years ago. And it will never be that again.
Yet you, yes YOU!, are helping define and determine the future of faith in an institutional way. In a time when churches are struggling and dying, you not only keep “showing up,” . . . but honestly, the word “thriving” is very much an adjective that applies to West.
Why is West what it is??????
It’s in the way you love all people.
Plain and simple.
I read this post by a fellow clergyperson today, and it made me reflect yet, once more on how very grateful I am that you are who you are, we are where we are, and with the strength and power of God, we will continue to be the “church” that we are created and called to be.
I invite you to take some time to read this. This is happening in the broader United Methodist Church, of which you are a leader.
At the end of the day, the beginning of the day, and . . . . in the middle of the day . . . we are going to love God. And love ALL people. We won’t always be popular for that decision . . . and we won’t “pack the pews/rows” because of it. But . . . we will look like Jesus. And that’s what matters.