I'm sitting in the Dallas airport with a long wait to head back home. At least I'vd found a quiet place to rest, to think, and to let the beef brisket settle! My mind, however, is not quiet. I've just attended the Large Church Initiative conference of the United Methodist Church--500 of us from all over the country for 3 days of keynote addresses, workshops, and worship services. Lots of great music, both contemporary and traditional.
I'm exhausted, but excited! Yes, our denomination, like other mainlines, has been declining numerically. Yes, that is a matter of great concern. Yes, our denomination, as well as our annual conference, (and many others) are considering major changes this year. But, I'm convinced we are not in retreat. The theme of the conference was "New life, New hope." And I see life and hope everywhere I look--at the conference, and back home at First Church!
I'm trying to think if how to briefly sum up my impressions. Maybe this: we are living in an unprecedented time. Many--or most--of the time-tested "rules" no longer work. With much prayer, we must be clear about who we are, seeking a God-inspired and God-sized vision, holding to our principles that never change, but adapting our methods and language to this changing world in which we live, so that we reach others with the love of Christ.
With God as our guide and strength, we are a people dedicated to "new life, new hope." See you Sunday at the life and hope place (if I get out of this airport and through Atlanta!)--and bring a friend!