Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Thoughts On The United Methodist Church

Matthew 28:18–20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

IMG_0301Today’s passage is called the Great Commission.  It is often seen as the marching orders for the Christian church.  We are called to go and make disciples of or for Jesus Christ (whichever makes the most sense to you – lol).  In the early years of the Methodist movement – making disciples – followers of Christ – seemed to be the main focus.  Revivals and Camp Meetings were all the rage and altar calls were common place in Methodist worship – as pastors challenged parishioners to be transformed after the likeness of Christ.

Early Methodists were called to holiness – they were part of the holiness movement in the United States for instance.  We were taught to study the Word of God (the Bible) and to strive to live our lives after what it taught.  We were even encouraged to avoid some of the ills of our society.  The way it was explained to me (as a third generation Methodist pastor) – Methodists were encouraged to abstain from alcohol – from playing cards – from dancing – even from playing pool.  The reason – again as it was explained to me – was because these social activities were often associated with bars and night clubs – with gambling and behavior and places that were not appropriate for folks striving to follow after Christ.  We were encouraged to avoid even the appearance of evil or sin.  We were encouraged to keep Sunday set aside for the Lord.  In my home growing up – Sunday was a day for worship and Sunday School in the morning – a family lunch – a nap time – youth group – and worship in the evening.  Sunday was a day set aside for being with God and with other Christians.

The United Methodist ChurchCorrect me if I am wrong – but – I just don’t see the United Methodist Church of today – in many places – in many churches – as part of the holiness movement any longer.  I rarely hear or read about the UMC calling people to Scriptural holiness.  I rarely hear about revivals and camp meetings.  What I often hear – even from some of our clergy and Bishops – is a caving to social norm – to the sin of society.  I hear tolerance preached and taught rather than holiness.  It seems like we are trying to be popular rather than faithful.  I hope I’m not being too harsh.  Correct me if I am – please.

I would love to hear/read from others how they see the United Methodist Church today.  We say we want to transform the world – but into what likeness?  Are we striving to call people to Christ – to His holiness – or to some cultural PC (politically correct) faith?  Here is a link to what the church believes – United Methodists Believe.  Are we holding to these teachings and beliefs?  Is our UM Church preaching holiness or a watered down version of PC Christianity (if there is such a thing)?

What is your take on the Great Commission?  Is our local church taking this seriously?  Can we have open hearts – open minds – and open doors (a current slogan or motto) and still preach holiness?  Can we actually love people while calling them to leave a life of sin?  An old slogan was each one win one – yet I asked – what are we winning or pointing people toward these days?

Do we feel worship in our church home draws us into the presence of Christ?  Do we feel that the teachings and preachings in our church challenges our personal walk with Christ – calling us to holiness?  If so – praise the Lord – tell me about it – I would love to hear that I am not seeing all that the church today has to offer.  If not – what can we do to draw our church – the UMC – back to a holiness movement?  How can drawing people to Christ and reminding them of the teachings of Christ be central in our houses of worship again (if indeed they are not now)?

Maybe I’m just having a bad day.  Maybe I am way off.  We do need to realize that God’s grace (the topic of an upcoming revival at First UMC in Laurel – August 16-23) covers our sins – but we also need to know what sin is in our lives so that we can confess it and turn from it (repent).  Confession only comes when we are convicted by the Holy Spirit that we are sinning – and how will we know if someone doesn’t preach/teach what Godliness – holiness – is today?

I love the United Methodist Church – our heritage and our roots.  Even at the age of 60 I would love to be an active part of the transformation of the church and of the world – calling folks to Christ and to His holiness.  Who is with me?

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

This blog has nearly 1,900 readers/followers – how about some thoughts – some responses!

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July 24, 2015 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. Ray, thank you for the daily thoughts. At our movement’s founding in 1784, the new American Methodist church’s slogan was “Spread Scriptural holiness throughout the land.” I am in my 4th decade of ordained ministry and have witnessed our denomination getting seriously out of balance, turning from spreading holiness but instead desperately seeking the world’s approval. If it wasn’t for the growing number votes of Methodists in the Philippines and Africa at General Conference to support traditional, biblical, apostolic standards, our denomination would have lost all semblance of being a holiness movement. It is time for General Conference to turn this ship around, to give the Philippine and African delegates equal proportional representation with more developed nations, such as our own, in our world communion. (There are other changes needed which I do not have space to suggest.)

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Favorite Son | July 24, 2015 | Reply

    • Darryl, I’m in my 4th decade too, and the UMC has changed in my short time. So my question, how can we, or can we we, revive the UMC?

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      Comment by raymcdonald | July 24, 2015 | Reply

  2. Wow Mike and I were just talking about this last night . I told him I feel like I go to church lately out of habit and I almost never feel conviction to change anything . I know I am not perfect so there should be some conviction . I feel like I constantly hear a watered down PC version of the Bible . Its like we are so afraid the gospel will offend people . My kids whine about going to church and honestly I more often than ever before am tempted to just give in and stay in bed . The church ( Methodist church and even the church countrywide ) seems so different than just 20 years ago when I was a young teen . I thought it was just me . This country , the Methodist church ,and my family needs a revival !

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    Comment by Lorraine | July 24, 2015 | Reply

  3. Thank you, Ray, for the post. In answer to your question, as a lay person who spent nearly a decade in a Methodist church, what I would recommend is not only getting back to our roots but actually looking at the roots. Looking into the lives of men like John Wesley, Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and the numerous Methodist preachers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Doing so for myself inspired me to write about these men. If you interest, please visit the website for the book series, The Asbury Triptych Series. The trilogy opens with the book, Black Country, detailing the early movement in England and its effect on a young preacher whose life work will eventually shape Methodism in America. That young preacher from England was Francis Asbury. The website is http://www.francisasburytriptych.com. Again, thank you for the challenging post.

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    Comment by Al DeFilippo | July 25, 2015 | Reply

  4. I grew up in the U.M.C. at the time of it’s going over the cliff, so to speak. Funny thing—the “Lay Witness Mission” was my call to make a personal decision for Christ. But attending a “Missions” meeting that was no more than a presentation of Communist insurgent takeover of liberation theology…and during a visit to the U.M.C. National Offices in NYC…being angrily told by a self-righteous finance guy that the National church had enough resources so that the local churches could go fly a kite…the National leaders could do verry well without them! This is also the time of the “Giaia (sp.?)” goddess cult and folks being told one thing and coming to find themselves doing pagan-type worship to this goddess….! Even the “Good News” (name-?) movement petered out…and the fundementalists were consoled….bought out….reassimilated??? This all was back in the 1970’s to ’80’s…and things have gotten no better? Couldn’t take all the lies,pride and deception anymore! My own local church was okay…Fairview United Methodist, in Binghamton, NY—you know I still dream about that place?

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    Comment by Jonathan Caswell | July 26, 2015 | Reply

  5. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    A BLAST FROM THE PAST THAT IS ONGOING—I GREW UP AS A UNITED METHODIST…UNTIL THE HIJINKS DROVE ME OUT!!!! 😦

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Caswell | July 26, 2015 | Reply


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