This has been a busy several weeks for the Bethesda-Wesley Chapel Charge of the United Methodist Church. Each of these churches held their annual ice-cream suppers complete with auctions. I found myself thinking about annual events that churches have. Here I am referring to all churches not merely the churches I serve. Churches have annual events and many times the only reason that they have these annual or semi-annual events is that they have always had them.
When I think about reasons for doing something I get agitated when the primary reason is, “We’ve always done this.” Or “We’ve always done it this way.” The way things have always been done is a poor reason to continue. Bishop Bill McAlilly challenged the Tennessee Annual Conference this past year. He pointed out that the way we’ve always done things is not sustainable. He then put forth Jesus’ words to us in John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” The promise is that we will do greater things. But in this promise lies a challenge. With and through faith we can do greater things, but we are the ones that must take action. Simply doing what we’ve always done is no longer an option.
I am not saying we should not continue in the traditions of the past. I am saying we need to investigate why we are continuing past events to ensure they are meeting our mission and vision of our church. We need to think outside the box of tradition and plan events that are meaningful not only to ourselves but to the community in which we reside and minister. Wesley Chapel has 800 homes being built next door. This is a golf course community where more than likely residents will use their gold carts for travel unless they are leaving the community. One of the members of Wesley Chapel suggested building a bridge across a small creek so the people could drive golf carts to church. Several people rolled their eyes but that is the kind of thinking we need to move into the future. In order for us to love our neighbors we must reach out to them, and a golf cart bridge is definitely reaching out to our neighbors and thinking outside the box.
As for continuing the Ice-cream Suppers and Auctions we should, as with any other event, look into why we are having it. Does the event line up with our mission as Christians? Does it show love to our community and spread the Gospel message? The Ice-cream Suppers raised thousands of dollars that will be used to support other missions, feed and help those facing hardships, and many other good uses. In addition, I witnessed several hundred people at each supper. These people were laughing, conversing, and enjoying the fellowship of their neighbors. That night we also supported at least one family that needed some extra help. I believe that these suppers do fit into our mission and are very successful. They allow us to reach out into the community showing our love of neighbor.
As we move forward we will begin conversations here at the church. These conversation will involve what we need to do in order to life into the promise that greater things will be done. In the meantime please continue to pray for your pastor, your church, and your neighbors.
These are this pastor’s opinion.