A Community of Christ-followers committed to being the continuing presence of Jesus in our community and world.
St. Mark's United Methodist Church
Saturday, May 25, 2019
Come Follow Christ
 
 

State of the Church Report 2018

 
As I was thinking about this report, I couldn’t help but ponder over a message, some conversations, some scriptures and a song that I have come across recently. Factor that in with the focus of the Charge Conferences this year, Servant Leadership, and you have the makings of a sermon more so than a State of the Church Report.
As with many things, if we were to look at these components individually, we can easily surmise that the State of the Church is we are doing well – we are paying all of our apportionments; we are participating in some local missions; we are supporting world-wide missions; we are hosting monthly meals for the community; we have a few active small groups; we have creative and engaging Children’s programs and VBS; we have our Great-Give-Away events; and much more. For a small congregation we do a lot.
 
Another characteristic of our church that I reference and commend often is that we are like a church of misfit toys. We are very welcoming to people of all backgrounds including those with special needs as well as those who maybe aren’t as accepted in other faith communities.
 
Paul wrote in Thessalonians 3:13 – “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” And the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, instructed, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” Looking individually at the things we do as a church – we can say that the state of the church is that we are doing well.
 
At the District Conference held recently, Tom Berlin gave the message during the worship time, and he challenged all those present to really get back to the roots of Methodism and not just focus on doing good, but really doing the good that God is leading us to – and sometimes that will involve risk and discomfort – but more importantly always will require faith.
 
As I was preparing this report, I was reading some of John Wesley’s quotes on these topics and wanted to share a few for you to ponder:
 
“You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore, spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most. It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.”
 
“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”
 
One of the topics that has been occurring often within our church family has been about the way we interact and treat one another. I believe this is one area where all churches need improvement, and we are no exception. Wesley again commented on this when he said “There is no faithfulness like that which ought to be between a guide of souls and the person directed by him. They ought continually to regard each other in God, and closely to examine themselves, whether all their thoughts are pure, and
all their words directed with Christian discretion. Other affairs are only the things of men; but these are peculiarly the things of God.”
 
After the District Conference, I was having a conversation about the message, and my sister had commented on a license plate that she saw and asked if I knew what that verse said – I couldn’t from memory, but quickly looked up Galatians 1:10 and it say “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
It sure seems like there is a very consistent and persistent message that is being sent.
Oh, the song I mentioned…it is something that I have been thinking a lot about in conjunction with our community dinners and the messages in this report. It is Come to the Table by Sidewalk Prophets – here are some of the lyrics:
 
We all start on the outside The outside looking in This is where grace begins We were hungry, we were thirsty With nothing left to give Oh the shape that we were in Just when all hope seemed lost Love opened the door for us

He said come to the table Come join the sinners who have been redeemed Take your place beside the Savior now Sit down and be set free Come to the table
 
Come meet this motley crew of misfits These liars and these thiefs There's no one unwelcome here, no So that sin and shame that you brought with you You can leave it at the door And let mercy draw you near
 
Just come to the table Come join the sinners, you have been redeemed Take your place beside the Savior now Sit down and be set free Come to the table Just come to the table
 
Writing this report, it would be very easy for me to say, the State of our Church is that we are doing good – as I mentioned for a small church we are doing a lot of very good things and are genuinely trying to help people. We have many faithful servants in our congregation who truly love God and love others.
The question I ask though, is what if God was giving us our performance review? When you read back through some of the quotes and scriptures I have included – how do we measure up at pleasing God? Is there more that God wants from us as individuals and from us as a body? While we have faithful followers, are we helping others to come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and to encourage and lead new disciples of Jesus Christ?
A few years ago, I wrote about our “Road Trip” as a church but as I have been doing readings from John Wesley, I am reminded of one road that we need to make sure we take as we continue forward in our journey, “The Highway of Holiness”.
 
Serving and Glorify Christ Together,
 
B. J. Bookwalter