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Why We Should Care

Global Church requires global care, response

By Rev. Bradley C. Knepp,
Pastor, Mt. Holly Springs UM Church,
Mt. Holly Springs, PA

A parishioner recently shared with me he wasn’t all that concerned with the problems in our denomination – he said he was more concerned with what’s going on in his own family and in our church. Though these are naturally good things to be concerned about, my friend was worried he was being selfish – by not concerning himself with the larger sphere of our United Methodist denomination.

Let’s face it – he was being honest for all of us. I thank him for his integrity and honesty. It’s easy for all of us to forget that our little local church is integrally connected – in a "connectional system" – to a massive dynamic structure known as United Methodism. We have more churches in the US than post offices. We are the second largest Protestant church in the US and have multiple millions, if not billions, of dollars in offerings each year. It’s easy for each of us to neglect issues in the larger church because we are not near the newsmakers. Scant few of us hold office in a high-level New York or Nashville church board or agency. Too few of us are involved in the denomination in a formal capacity beyond the local church. Therefore whenever a big problem occurs in our denomination, such as that associated with Rev. Jimmy Creech, we are often learning about it the same time the secular audience reads it in the newspaper, or sees it live on CNN. Instead of finding out more, we bury our head in the sand of silence and hope no one brings it up. We hope we will not have to talk about it with anyone at work or at church because of the embarrassment, or because of our uncertainty of exactly what to say. If we really cared about our denomination, would we feel that way?

We are being selfish when we close our eyes to the widespread rifts that are deeply penetrating The United Methodist Church today. Beyond the many commands of scripture to defend and stand for sound doctrine and teaching, there are two important and often overlooked reasons we must earnestly remain within, and patiently care for, our Church.

First, we must care about the whole denomination because it will ultimately have its effect upon our local churches and our families – the people we care about most. Just ask the conference to send your church a non-Bible-believing, theologically liberal pastor and you will soon learn the "denomination" is directly responsible for filling your pulpit – and therefore your mind and spirit – every Sunday. In The United Methodist Church, the "denomination" can be held no further away than your pastor. The primary task of the Annual Conference is to provide leadership in the pulpits of local churches. This fact is comprehended quickly by a church when they learn their new pastor doesn’t believe in the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, or espouses some new-sprung liberal unbiblical teaching that both Christians and non-Christians know should not be coming from a minister of the Gospel. Suddenly everyone is upset with "the conference" – the denomination – for sending this pastor with abnormal, unbiblical beliefs. Suddenly, locally, everyone "cares" about the denomination – because it is touching their lives in a way they do not like! If your pastor is Bible believing, theologically sound, and this is to your liking, do not allow yourself to become so comfortable with the still sweet waters of your local church that you cease to care about the many troubled waters in the larger denomination. Get involved. Speak up. Stand up for Jesus. The part of the denomination that may end up concerning you most could be as near as your next pastor.

Second, we must be concerned for our denomination because of the work of our forefathers in the faith. It is safe to say with certainty that John Wesley, Francis Asbury, Thomas Coke, Phillip Otterbein, Martin Boehm, Jacob Albright, and many others of our Godly forerunners in the faith would not have allowed the radical departures from orthodox faith and practice that are today glossed over in the "sacred" names of theological pluralism, toleration, and inclusion. Remember those who have gone before us. Remember the circuit riders who braved both the forces of nature and the rebelliousness of man to spread "scriptural holiness throughout the land." Some gave their lives; all gave their all. Remember our rich Christ-centered heritage. And remember today those faithful Christian pastors of our denomination who have served Jesus Christ all their lives – many are still serving Christ in varied ways in retirement. They helped pave the way for the beautiful churches and manifold ministries we enjoy today. What of them? Shall we abandon them and their work? Also, remember the dedicated laity who have given of themselves with their whole hearts to serve Jesus and His Church. Shall we who are yet alive now roll over and play dead in the face of apostasy in the Church? Shall we go inside and coil up on the sofa and enjoy a warm fire and a thick novel while outside the reign of destruction slowly but surely erodes our beloved denomination? At last check we were losing 1,000 members per week.

The choice is yours. The choice is mine. I am choosing to care about our denomination. How about you?

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