I am currently embarking on a book about evangelism. The author (Jim Cowart) leads a United Methodist congregation that has grown from 4 to 2000 since 2001. But the reason I am reading the book is all about the title. I love it for its simplicity ... its directness ... and I love it because I have seen the need for this in churches all over the US since I reentered the life of the Church in 1985. Start this ... stop that! Why would I like this title?
Well ... let me use a business example that doesn't beat up on the Church. Here goes. I have been diligently trying to correct the online information about Abbeville UMC. It is amazing how years of assuming everything is ok will end you in a total disarray of information (like getting directed to the parsonage, the wrong phone number and the wrong website? But here is the fun part ... getting all of that fixed. So, I have learned several things. First, Google has real people working for them. I have talked to two of them and they really exist. I feel very special to talk to one of those Google employees that, with a very interesting accent, asked my about the changes I have been making, hopefully confirming accuracy. That was pretty cool!
Then, my encounter with the YP (Yellow Pages) people. The YP people are, I believe, stuck in some time-warp that does not include logic, reason or good business sense. First, they seem to want $1,000 per year for something (I am not sure what). Second, their online site has the wrong information and to change the information they need the phone number to our account. Since the only number either of us have is the incorrect number and since the correct number doesn't connect to any account there there is no valid number by which we can change the information on the web. So their automated system is set to verify you are the right person to correct the account and guess which number they call? Yep ... the incorrect number online. The nice gentleman I got when I called them was truly trying to be a help, but their system is so messed up he has no clue what to do, who to transfer me to or whether he should just hang up. In the south we would just say, "Bless his heart!."
The point is this. There are some very good things we need to do if we are to reach our community for Christ. Jim Cowart's church has had (of that 2,000 attendance) about 1,800 professions of faith in Jesus. Do you think he is answering the call to the mission to which we are all called ... "Make disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28)!?" I hope to spend some time with our church council, our congregation, our worshipers and our community to remind us of the things we should start and the things we should stop. I hope you are down with this journey. Jesus gives us principles for love and life. They are not as complex as the professional theologians would like us to believe. There are things we need to start (Go and make disciples, Matthew 28). There are things we need to stop (stop believing we are better than anyone else, Luke 18:9-14). Let's act on both of those! Pastor Randy