We once had a tank of discus fish in our home.These beautiful tropical fish are highly sensitive, and hate any disturbance to their environment. But in order for those fish to remain healthy, in order to survive, they had to be subjected to regular water changes. They would cower in the corner of the tank at the sight of the suction tube. They would scurry around frantically as we moved their big rocks out of the way. Now they had nothing to hide behind, and would tremble in fear until we had finished the process. How I wished that we could communicate with them, to let them know that those changes were not just simply for their good...but that they would actually die without them.These are challenging days for the United Methodist Church. It is time for many churches to change. It is time to stop cowering in the corner at the sight of a projector screen. It is time to stop hiding behind our habits and traditions. It is time to allow some big rocks to be moved...because if we don't, we will die. I do not want to be part of a dying denomination. I want to be part of a growing, healthy, lively church that thrives on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Yesterday I attended a gathering of faithful, fruitful United Methodists who came together to listen to Gary Step, the West Michigan Conference Director of New Church Development and Congregational Transformation, as he made an impassioned plea for us to embrace the Vital Church Initiative...a process that will help us make the changes we need in order to survive. I pray that those congregations taking part will not cower. I pray that they will not hide. I pray that they will be ready to move those big rocks aside, so that God's transforming Holy Spirit can take hold of our denomination, and lead us forward. These are challenging days indeed...but with courageous leadership, and God's almighty power, we can surely rise to them.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7