There are so many agenda items coming before our General Conference in May. Yes, you read correctly, in May, only 5 weeks away! As I hear conversations that pertain to the General Conference, I am hearing a lot of negative thoughts, prophesies, and conjecture. "It will be a repeat of Tampa!" "The Church will split!" "The powers that be always get their way." It will be no surprise if the General Conference is a failure if we approach it with such negative thought.
Philippians 4:8 and 9 (NRSV) state: "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you." The writer of Philippians has already encountered a negative mindset and a "stiff-necked" people. The writer tells us to not dwell on the past or the negative, but rather to dwell on that which is true, honorable, pure, pleasing, commendable to Jesus Christ and His Church. By thinking this way we counter the enemy of God with the power of God.
General Conference, like good worship, is not about us, but about the living and spirit-giving God known in Jesus Christ. We have been handed down through the ages the responsibility first laid on Peter, the Church. When Jesus laid this privilege upon Peter, Jesus told Peter that not even the gates of hell could prevail against His Church built upon the rock. So, why are we so negative? Why do we so easily believe the worst? Why are our prophesies so filled with gloom and doom?
My friends, God is still in control of God's Church and even the part that we call The United Methodist Church. God will not let the gates of hell prevail against us. You and I need to stop the attacks against God's Church and to speak instead of the positive, of the hope, and of the promise of Jesus Christ for the future of our United Methodist Church. I say to all who are complaining, or jumping ship as the water appears to be pouring in, to start praising God for God has given you a bucket to bail the water and to start bailing. Let's set the ship aright with our prayers, our support, our gifts, our service, and our witness. Yes, we who are pastors need to start giving thanks and to work to empower the Church, instead of adding to its destruction.
God is able, and God is counting on us to be God's work force.
Here's a bucket!
PS. If you or your church would like a printable copy of a prayer list of the delegate for General Conference, please use this link to our office email, and Teresa will email a copy to you. AMRY@ngumc.net