It was almost a year ago that God and I started wrestling. I had just finished up a difficult year of transition topped with multiple writing projects. I needed some rest and a I needed a break from writing. But God had another plan. No matter how many reasons I offered for why God’s plan should not be my plan, we all know how the wrestling match ends. God always wins! God wore me down and I surrendered to the writing assignment I was given. As much as I did not want to accept the assignment for so many reasons, God convinced me that I was being called for such an assignment for such a time as this. UGH!
That writing assignment was aptly named a Cry From the Pew from day one. Most working titles on books do not end up being the final titles, but this one sure did. It so describes the sentiments and the condition of my heart and soul as I offered the truth telling and held the mirror up for the United Methodist Church that I felt God called me to do. As the self-employed bread winner for my family, the “gift” of apostle and prophet is not always easy (nor seen as a gift by some) and is often risky. This was by far the riskiest writing of all time.
For those of you familiar with the APEST model, you’ll remember it refers to Ephesians 4 and the varied gifts God gave each of us: apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, and teacher. It is the blend of these five types of gifted disciples that make up the richness of the faith community. Unfortunately, if you look around the institutional church, the apostles, prophets, and evangelists are few and far between. Most of those who have chosen to stay are the shepherds and teachers. The full expression is not fully represented or at least not fully represented in a balanced expression. Those who are apostles, prophets, and evangelists are less likely to be able to function well and in a healthy manner within the confines of a shrinking, directionless, visionless, and resource-dwindling institution with seemingly no sense of urgency.
The system is broken on so many levels and no one seems to know how to fix it. Yet, no one is really willing to admit they don’t know. Furthermore, it appears that no one is thinking innovatively on how to create something brand new that would serve the post-modern culture. Instead, it appears we will kick the can down the road another year (or two or four) and continue to tweak the system with more duct tape and WD-40. In the meantime, more and more churches are having to make the difficult decision on whether to close their doors, merge with another congregation, or try to keep limping along praying for a miracle.
Cry From the Pew: A Call to Action for the United Methodist Church was written to create real and raw conversations about the ALL the issues with the UMC. It is my hope and prayer that churches will have small group conversations and continue to invite people to pull up a chair and join them. Continuing to do the same thing we have done for the past forty years and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity. It’s time for a different conversation with a wider circle and a call for ACTION! Won’t you please join me? Gather a group and start a new conversation for a new day for new direction filled with hope for a new tomorrow! Check out the bonus offer for small group pre-order book bundles here.