Have you ever felt as if you were a bit out of step with everyone else? Well, that’s the way I felt when I walked into the last local church I served for the very first time. I had no idea what was important to the people there. I didn’t know where they were in their spiritual journey. I wondered what type of worship they responded to or if they felt a call to engage in reaching the people in the community. I entered the doors that first week with so many questions and feeling as if I was out of step with everyone else.
There was so much to learn. I began to ask questions: (They may not have been these exact questions, but they were close to them.)
- What is the heartbeat of this church?
- Describe the most exciting thing this church has done to take God’s love to the streets during the last year?
- What is the one thing people in the community know about the people who attend this church?
- Describe the ministry of a disciple of Jesus Christ?
As I met with individuals, church leaders, members, and friends, I began to hear stories that shaped the life of the people in the church. The stories were like threads weaving together that particular part of the body of Christ. I found myself transformed by the stories, touched by the things I heard.
During this Lenten Season I am asking that the people of the East District of the Desert Southwest Conference enter a time of building one another up through the sharing of stories.
Since last Annual Conference Session, what has your church done to love people with the radical kind of love that Jesus lived? In what ways have you taken courageous steps to act for justice? How have you intentionally reached out to build a sense of unity, founded on our faith in Jesus Christ?
I am asking that you send me stories, perhaps photos as well. Encourage one another to grow in faith as you tell your stories about what God has done through you as you stepped into the Vision of the Annual Conference. Which of our Core Values were present in the new thing you have done? How has this new thing impacted the people of your church? Click here for an example of encouragement from Epworth UMC in Phoenix.
So, as I write this note to you I feel as if I’m a bit out of step again. I wonder if anyone will actually enter into the spirit of what I am inviting you to do? (Funny how fear and self-doubt creeps in easily.)
Sisters and brothers in Christ, let us provoke one another to do great things for Christ. Send me your stories during these short weeks in Lent. Your experience may be just the thing someone else needs to take a new step of faith in the journey of transformation and vitality.
Know that I await your notes with a sense of excitement. I know God is already at work in you.
With hope and joy –
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.