When considering the future of the Methodist Church, locally, nationally and internationally and indeed the Christian Church in general, should we not always bear in mind the words of Jesus in The Great Commission?
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28: 18-20
Jesus has commanded us to spread the word, to evangelise and to pass on the good news. In practice, how many of us do that? I must confess that this is not a personal strength of mine but if I get the opportunity I try to take it, though not always successfully. Talking about one’s faith to others can be difficult - we can feel awkward or even have a tinge of embarrassment talking about something which the world appears to have rejected - or that is as it may seem to us. I am not so sure - I think that there is an acceptance and indeed a welcoming of matters spiritual even in the materialistic society in which we live.
One of the challenges facing the Church today is how to address the shortage of ordained clergy. We seem to think that we should leave it to the Circuit or the Connexion to find suitable candidates. In this day and age with church numbers falling it is indeed a challenge but does not the responsibility fall with us, the individual church members to be on the lookout for men and women, who with a degree of encouragement, may feel they have a calling?
The church must be flexible - these days society is such that for some people Sunday is the only day of the week they can spend with family and friends. We have all endured pressures of some sort in our lives - distractions and problems of all types but thirty years ago Sunday was “special”. I felt then that Sunday opening of supermarkets was the beginning of the end of Sunday being special. So the church has to change - Church is not just for Sundays. Broadstone Methodist has set a fine example of Church during the week with events such as, amongst others, Broadway, Messy Church, Thirsty Thursday, Knit and Natter, Women’s Fellowship etc. Still, there is more to be done - should we be examining the structure of the Church? Has the circuit system had its day? These are questions I am posing - at the moment I do not know the answers but we should not be afraid to ask and discuss these issues. We already work with other churches in the locality under “Churches Together in Broadstone” - this is very encouraging but could we do more?
I would commend to you Tom Stuckey’s book “Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land - the future of the Church in Britain. A Methodist Perspective”. In the book there is a section headed “Praying and living the Ephesian vision” emphasising the importance of prayer. Prayer is so powerful and I think that many of us, myself included, do not always appreciate its immense power. Perhaps if every single one of us were to pray regularly for the future of the Church, its future would become more certain and that it would grow in such a way that the living Christ would be seen in abundance.