To talk of survival does not mean that survival is an end in itself. The survival sought is not for an institution and certainly not for institutional forms or entities. Church leadership is a response to God’s love and action in the world revealed most clearly in Jesus Christ. Christian leadership is a channel of God’s grace as it seeks the fulfillment of God’s vision, and such leadership emerges out of the history, beliefs, and traditions of faith communities.
Each month's Offertory Prayers includes an "Invitation to the Offering" (see below) along with a digital image for those who might want to use it. We hope you will find this a helpful way to remind the people in your pews that their offering travels to many places to make a powerful difference in the lives of people they may never meet. You can find great stories of the difference our giving makes at http://umcgiving.org.
Invitation to the OfferingThe offering you made last week empowered ministry within our congregation and in response to the needs of our community. It also helped support the work of ministries beyond the local church that reach people who are in desperate need to feel the touch of love and reconciliation. Through our connectional giving, we are playing a key role in the fight against Ebola in West Africa on many fronts. United Methodist Communications formed its Information and Communications Technologies for Development team (ICT4D), whose work includes bringing technology solutions to the fight against poverty. When Ebola was first reported in Liberia this past summer, many residents dismissed it as political propaganda or superstition. The historic text message shown here from Liberian Bishop John Innis, the most effective means of mass communication in this situation, made real the threat. This ministry happens thanks to the generous support of United Methodists like you. I invite you once again to give generously as we worship God through the sharing of our gifts, tithes and offerings.November Offertory Prayers were written by the Rev. Rosanna Anderson, Associate Director of Stewardship Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Beginning with a Seed, a Reflection on Mark 4:26-34
Baby boomers fueled the growth in American church membership and attendance, but they are dying off. Lovett Weems has termed this the Death Tsunami. He suggests that we focus on what is important:
What is the future going to look like? Will leadership emerge? I think about those early Christians, the first hearers of Mark's gospel. What discouragements were they facing? What did the future of the church look like to them?
Their gatherings were as small as mustard seeds. Yet, they did become as great shrubs providing protection.
So, I would like to draw from this parable a parallel--size now does not limit potential.
But, I'm also drawn to the lesson embedded in this passage--that Jesus spoke in parables because his hearers were not ready to learn his meaning. To his disciples, and in private, he explained everything.
Yet, even without understanding, the other hearers became part of the growth of the church. I'm looking back at verses 26-27. The sower of the seed doesn't have to know how the sprouting part works in order for it to work.