United Methodist Church that couldntOnce upon a time there was a little church with lots of happy people. They gathered every Sunday to teach their children the stories of Jesus and to help them grow in faith. Their worship services were full of singing and praying. Each week they would gather to hear their pastor talk about Jesus and how the Bible says they should live their lives. Their earnest desire was to see people set free from their sins and to watch them being transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ. They also worked very hard to help make their world a better place for everyone. They rejoiced as much when hearing of people being set free from bigotry, prejudice, and oppression as they did when they heard of them being set free from their sins. Busy Servant was the chairperson of the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee. She really didnt have time for the job, but she knew how important it was to help her church. One day the District Superintendent called to say: "I have some exciting news for you! The cabinet has decided to move your pastor and we need to have a gathering so you can meet your new minister. I think you will be very happy about this." Busy Servant, however, was not very happy at all. Ministers came and went very fast in their little church and just when they began to get to know one, another would come along. This was particularly upsetting because they knew very little about this new person. The committee was allowed to ask a few questions, but often they didnt know what questions to ask. Not having very much information to go on and being told they had to have a very good reason to reject a candidate, they sometimes mis-takenly accepted a leader who was not good for their church. In fact, it sometimes took a year or more to even find out what their new pastor believed about faith issues that were very important to the church.
Unfortunately, some ministers were very interested in "social justice" but really were not very interested in the views and beliefs of the church they were supposed to be serving. Others believed and taught strange things. They often criticized church members and even past ministers as being unloving and unkind because they disapproved of the way some people lived their lives. Many church members became concerned because their pastor seemed to always talk about love and acceptance, which was good, but almost never talked about Jesus Christ, sin, repentance and holiness. Sometimes parishioners would get so upset that they would leave the church and go to other places to serve and worship God. Busy Servant wassad when she saw them turning into the parking lot of another church. What was even more sad was the fact that in the past, when it was determined that their minister was hurting the church, it often took a long time to change things. Even then, what resulted was just another spin of the rotating clergy wheel. Perhaps they would have better luck next time.
Faithful Servant was the lay leader of the church. He knew that one of his jobs was to "meet with the pastor to discuss the state of the church and the needs for ministry". He had been doing the job for many many years because everyone told him that he was doing such a wonderful job. Faithful Servant really wasnt sure what he was supposed to do and was suspicious that others simply didnt want the responsibility and really didnt think he was that good at his job. He was often confused because each minister seemed to have his or her own beliefs and way ofdoing things. One minister would say that doing something was wrong and the next would say it was perfectly all right to do that very same thing. Not having the church training and classes on the Bible that the ministers had, he really didnt know what to think about the whole matter. The Bible seemed fairly clear about a number of important issues, however, different pastors seemed to make the Bible say completely opposite things. Faithful Servant was upset and concerned by the whole matter. He thought he could depend on his minister to advise him as to what the Bible said was right and wrong. How was he to take a Godly stand on any issue when there were so many different leaders telling him so many different things.
Many in the church thought it was best not to do anything. "Lets just wait and see what happens. Perhaps the problem will eventually fix itself, after all, being loyal to ones leaders is important," they reasoned. Others called for actions to be taken, but werent quite sure what to do. Some wanted their little church to break away and be on their own, but they were told they would have to leave everything behind if they did that. And so the little church couldnt do anything to fix theproblem except sit and wait and hope. "If there were only some way for all of us to get together and do something" they moaned.
There is a way and its called the Confessing Movement!
The Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church
7995 East 21st Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46219
PHONE (317) 356-9729
FAX (317) 356-9742
brochure produced by
The Northern Illinois Conference
FAX (815) 453-2579
This pamphlet answers the question:
What can I do to let my voice be heard within the United Methodist Church concerning issues of importance to my local congregation?