Stand out from the crowd
November 28, 2017 / By Rev. John Matin, FoundationUMC
Too small, too busy, too tired, too much to be done. These are just a few of the things many of us point to when confronted with a world that is indeed broken. The truth is, as members of a mainline denomination in the United States, we are also a part of rapidly declining (some would suggest dying) breed. Statistics and anecdotal information both confirm this reality, and yet there is Good News! The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ for a hurting and broken world, remains true and is just as powerful as it was 2,000 years ago. And our unique Wesleyan approach to living out and sharing our faith with others gives us an advantage!
“Because of the service, by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 9:13
The above passage is at the core of the DNA of our new church, FoundationUMC. We understand this passage to be necessarily connecting missions (doing good things) and evangelism (sharing good news) for followers of Jesus Christ. We see these activities as two sides of the same coin and inseparably linked in concept and practice. For this reason, we began hosting monthly mission opportunities even before we were holding weekly worship!
At FoundationUMC, we believe you can’t tell people how much God loves them, without showing them and people will never know God loves them, no matter how many good things we do, if we don’t tell them. This practice of keeping the two together fits nicely with John Wesley’s emphasis on personal and social holiness, as well as his insistence for a faith of both head and heart. It’s this “both/and” approach that allows United Methodists to truly stand out from the rest.
Why am I telling you this? Because in light of a broken world, a denomination in decline, and Sunday mornings filled with competition like never before, we have an opportunity to truly stand out from the crowd! While our congregation, located in Vestal, NY, is surrounded by other congregations bigger, better established, and wealthier than us, we have an advantage. They might have a cooler band, a newer building, and more to offer people who are simply
looking for what a church can do for them, but we offer them a chance to truly make a difference each and every month. Our emphasis on monthly, handson missions and understanding that these missions (showing God’s love) allow us to truly share God’s love in a way that is compelling.
Several months ago, we partnered with an organization called Sole Hope, who provides healthcare and footwear to children in Uganda who have neither. For the cost of $100, we were able to get a shoe cutting party kit and after about two hours of work, we had created 100 shoes! Partnering with Sole Hope not only allowed our church to provide shoes for children who have none, but also be a part of providing medical care for the kids and jobs for Ugandan shoe makers. This is just one of many projects we’ve undertaken as a new church in order to make our presence known, share the good news of Jesus and of course allow people the opportunity to make a difference. Each month, we take on a project (either local here in Vestal or more globally-focused) that gives our people the opportunity to show God’s love with their actions, to invite friends, family and neighbors to join in, and of course share the good news of Jesus.
Many of our congregations in Upper NY are already doing good work in their local communities as well as throughout the world. To those congregations, don’t be afraid to see those missions as an opportunity not only to love people, but to tell them they are loved. These missions are an easy way to invite your friends, relatives, and neighbors into the fold and truly stand out by making a difference! For those of you who think you are too small, too poor, or too inexperienced to really stand out, know that our baby church (we were less than one-month old when we partnered with Sole Hope) not only managed it, but it caught the attention of people all over our area who would never normally walk through the doors of a church. Be encouraged, be inspired, be challenged, and stand out from the crowd by showing people God loves them with your actions as you tell them about God’s love with your words!