Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Acts 8:1... Again
It looks like a big administrative change might be in store for the larger church those of us in this area know as the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. One of the things upon which the Conference will be voting in its early June meeting is the possibility of reducing its administrative districts from nine to seven or six. It has been estimated that going to six districts will result in a savings of somewhere around a half million dollars annually. It is an interesting time. Economics seems to be driving the local church and the larger church to make decisions that would not have even been considered a decade or two ago.
While there is nothing wrong with change, it often seems strange that the church has such a time with it. It this instance it seems that change is being thrust upon the church by the economics of the day instead of a change that is being embraced out of obedience to the mandate of Jesus. The 8th chapter of the books of Acts describes such a moment in the life of the early church. One of the last things Jesus said was to go into the world making disciples. So, what happened? The church sits in Jerusalem and it is only after a time of severe persecution that the settled church becomes the church scattered into the world. And, even then, in the beginning, the Apostles seem to do more staying at home letting the Hellenistic Jews do the footwork outside of Judea and Samaria.
The truth is it took persecution to root the newly established church out of its holding pattern. Holding out in Jerusalem was not what Jesus had in mind when He gave the Great Commission. (Mt. 28:18) Maybe this business before the church now is something which should have been on the agenda a long time ago, but it remains hard for institutions to think out of the box. Who knows? Just maybe God is in this economic thing like He was the persecution thing. He does have a track record of using some of the stuff which makes us uncomfortable for His purposes.