After perusing various articles on United Methodist growth, I have come to wonder if our current hierarchy is so worried about “getting the numbers up” that we have lost sight of the “people” factor. What I mean by this is: Has the United Methodist Church, in an attempt to increase numbers in membership, baptisms, giving, missions, etc., lost or misplaced the understanding that we are working with people here?
People, whose lives have been devastated by the economic meltdown. People, whose way of living has been challenged and changed. People, who are searching for meaning but not always in the church. People, who commit more to sports than to the church. People, who view mainstream Christianity as rigid and self-serving. People, who are giving and doing all they can in small communities that are dying. People, who love God and neighbor but don’t love to join. People, who have been in the same church all of their lives, whose parents were there, and grandparents. People, who have struggled with oppression within the church. People, who are searching for meaning to life. All types of people!
I realize that numbers are what measure in today’s world. But in the church, an institution of PEOPLE, that cannot and should not be the only measurement!
I cannot count the times I have seen people “get it” – that Jesus wants to live in their heart – and some turn away like the rich young ruler. I cannot count the times that years later, seeds that were formerly planted finally bear fruit. I cannot count the times that PEOPLE lived out their faith daily in their communities.
We, as a denomination that I have loved for years, need to think about what we are doing as we measure. Would Jesus have counted his baptisms or just have been overjoyed that they came? Would Paul have made his churches count attendance or givings? Sure, the church has failed in many areas to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world but is counting the form of effectiveness we want to measure; and at what costs?
I just wonder….