I know that is not the most catchy title for a post, but it captures what I want to share. Over the past 6 years I have been repeatedly asked ” how did I end up a United Methodist Pastor”? Well, I guess I need to explain something about my previous 20 year journey.
I was raised (in terms of ministry) in a progressive Pentecostal/Charismatic church, which emphasized what is known as the “move of God”. My Pastor had deep and solid roots within the Voice of Healing movement and he emphasized two key components of a consistent walk with God. Those components are “the Spirit and the Word”. I must say at this point, I was taught that everything that sounds good isn’t and every preacher that can walk and chew gum at the same time isn’t God’s man of faith and power. I need to be clear about that because often times when I speak of the Pentecostal/Charismatic expression, some people only imagine the weird. I share with the faith community that I serve, that we are not the First Church of Granola, in other words, filled with fruits, flakes and assorted nuts. Well I digressed a bit didn’t I ? Forgive me.
Well a number of years ago, I began to see in scripture, that the body of Christ is more of an organism than an organization. There was symbiotic process present within the 1st century church which enabled it to spread rather quickly by utilizing it’s various members for maximum effectiveness. Many faith communities have lost that function and as result have turned inward and become infected with cancerous cells, spending most of it’s time and energy trying to stop the disease instead of being a healing agent in the the world in which they are sent.
That isn’t the plan of God for the body. The strength of the church is in it’s connection both internally and externally. Paul tells us…
“that you, speaking the truth in love, may in all things grow up to Him who is the Head, even Christ; from whom the whole body, fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of each part, producing the growth of the body to the edifying of itself in love”. (Ephesians 4:15,16) MKJV
What became one of the guiding truths as I followed the leading of the Lord to my place of fruitfulness was the revelation of connection. And I found this very thing within the heart of the UMC. I discovered, according to it’s website that “The United Methodist Church, began as a movement and a loose network of local societies with a mission, grew into one of the most carefully organized and largest denominations in the world’.
This explanation of the connection continues…
“One reason United Methodists are able to accomplish great things is the church’s emphasis on “connectionalism”. It is common to hear United Methodist leaders speak of the denomination as “the connection.” This concept has been central to Methodism from its beginning. No local church is the total body of Christ. Therefore, local United Methodist churches are bound together by a common mission and common governance that accomplish reaching out into the world. United Methodist churches and organizations join in mission with each other and with other denominations.””
So there was key number one for me. Connection. As I entered the process of ministry within this connection, I have found it to be both challenging and rewarding. Challenging because connection requires accountability and rewarding because accountability can provide strength and security.
I am not saying however, that all I have discovered within the Methodist connection was biblical structure. As important as that is forthe children of God, there must also be a sound approach to scripture, but I will leave that for my next installment.
I would encourage you to visit the UMC website and take sometime exploring the connection. You may find that you also are being to connect.
In the Master’s service