By nature, I’m an optimist. While I’m most thankful for today and God’s provision, I always believe that the best is yet to come. I look for the places where God is at work and am reminded that God does not grow weary of extending grace, sparking love in human relationships, and seeking to bring about reconciliation with God and neighbor. God knows there is much to be done to bring about the kingdom.
We are facing very tenuous times, and I believe God’s Good News is applicable and relevant more than ever. I wish I could predict the future, but I cannot. While I don’t know what’s ahead, I do know that God has a mission and purpose for the Church universal and FUMC Allen. We are called to live, share, and do the Good News of Jesus Christ so others can discover redemption and hope in Christ. Christ is our one sure hope in facing the turbulent times. Faith in Christ provides an anchor in the storms and his will to love and serve others provides a pathway forward regardless of how uncertain things may appear.
While in my mind, our work is definite, there are challenges and uncertainties that the Church faces at every level. In order to embrace the work that is before us, we would do well to consider the hard realities both in our local congregation and across the country. Our culture is rapidly changing and the manner in which people are drawn to the church and find a meaningful place to worship and serve is endlessly changing.
Not just at FUMC Allen, but across the greater Dallas area and the nation, the Church is having to remake and reshape our methodology in order to proclaim and demonstrate the eternal truths that have withstood the test of history. With the demands of our times, we are seeing fewer people in worship on Sundays simply because they have more demands on their time. While some people are giving more, fewer people are giving, and so churches are anticipating different levels of resources for doing ministry and maintaining aging facilities. Our congregations and their pastors are aging, and the number of younger families is stagnant. There are more and more churches on every corner wanting to minister to people and also reach the same people, and the fact remains that people are drawn to new churches because they are vibrant and fresh. They’re not steeped in what appears to some as unbending traditions and closed groups.
I wish I had a crystal ball to see into the future. I’m not sure what the future holds but am confident that God has a mission and purpose for the church. God did not bring us this far to abandon us. I do believe the best is yet to come, but it is imperative that we take seriously the signs of the times and how God needs us to be intentional about reaching our mission field.
This Sunday, I’ll talk about the challenges we face as we anticipate the future and build a bridge to the coming Sundays as we Step N2 the Future. You will not want to miss the next six weeks as we consider a new strategic plan and imagine how God will use us to proclaim the Good News and be Christ’s hands and feet.
In Christ, Rev. Todd Harris