Out Of The Trappings And Into The Heart

On a recent workday, a Methodist-preacher-colleague and I were having a conversation about church structure.  Committees, boards, budgets, and the like.

Hardly riveting stuff, to be sure.

Yet some enlightenment emerged.

Here’s why:  both of us realized that we want to streamline decision-making processes in order to maximize ministry.  We don’t want good ministry innovations to get caught up in Methodist machinery; we simply want innovation and progress, salvation and discipleship.

If every Methodist church embraced all the structures and systems and emphases that our denomination recommends, precious little of that would get done.

We would become churches and pastors who are so busy filling in the lines of Annual Conference reports that we neglect to exhort people to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

So in the middle of the phone call, my friend and I realized together that we want to free people from the trappings of Methodism so that we can get to the heart of Methodism.

Fewer Methodist decorations on the outside and more of the Methodist gift on the inside.

What’s that heart?

An unwavering belief that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4).

A trust in God’s grace that pursues, redeems, and delivers.

A confidence that the call to “be holy as the Lord your God is holy” is every bit as much alive and active today as it was in the days of Moses.

A celebration that “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life.”

A careful balance of the personal and the social — vital piety combined with good works.

And worship that is expressive, authentic, and rooted in the Scriptures.

Free will.  Grace Upon Grace. Holiness.  Assurance. Faith AND Works.  Dynamic worship.

Those form the heart of this Methodist movement.  And we don’t every want them obscured by Methodist machinery.