A Radical or a Bland Church?

Jon Stewart recently made the following comment: “Being a Methodist is easy. It’s like the University of Phoenix of religions: you just send them 50 bucks and click ‘I agree’ and you are saved.” This generated a number of responses by various Methodists, of which many recognized the painful truth behind Stewart’s satire.

Robin Russell, Managing Editor of the United Methodist Reporter, wrote an editorial entitled “Too bland for our own good?” in which she addresses the image problem for UM churches: “You know what I mean. The place where you and your spouse from another denomination can find ‘neutral’ ground.’ The place where no one tells you what to believe. The place where the Christian journey is self-paced, and where questions are better than answers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say. But if you are seriously seeking Christian faith development and an engaged, authentic community, some of our United Methodist churches would undoubtedly fall short (as would any number of churches in any denomination–but this is about us).” I agree with Russell when she goes on to say: “This sense of spiritual mushiness is a far cry from John Wesley’s approach when he launched the Methodist revival movement in the mid-18th century. There was no mistaking Wesley’s take on the importance of the spiritual disciplines–fasting, prayer, Bible study, Communion, worship and small group accountability–and reaching out to those outside the faith..” (Source: http://www.examiner.com/methodist-in-national/jon-stewart-calls-methodism-university-of-phoenix-of-religions)

Stewart’s and Russell’s comments caused me to stop, pray and assess where we are. This month my message series is on living a RADICAL faith. The verbal feedback has been very positive. The real feedback will be seen in how our people answer the call of this series to grow in our faith through study and prayer, to give up our comforts and pride to care for the poor and the broken of the world, and take the risk to share our faith in Christ with people who do not know the love of Jesus.

The mission of Snellville UMC is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our focus is to Shape New Generations to know Jesus, serve in his name, and live a radical, purposeful life that glorifies God. John Wesley started our faith movement for this reason. Are you committed to being a radical follower of Jesus or a bland imitation? The world looks at us and sees who we really are. Most of all, Jesus Christ knows our hearts. Decide today who you will be: radically for him or bland. There is no fence left to sit on.

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