Several months ago, someone from the United Methodist communications office emailed me to see if I could blog about the Methodist “Imagine No Malaria” campaign. She gave me statistics about how many kids in Africa die from malaria each year and tried to make a case for it being an important enough issue for me to write about. To my discredit, I didn’t take her up on the offer. Why? Because campaigns against malaria and the other quiet, methodical ways that God’s people change the world aren’t sexy enough. They just don’t get blog hits the way that scandals do! But this weekend, Methodist churches around the world will be doing a coordinated missions push called Change the World in which the world will be changed through hundreds of thousands of humble, unglamorous acts of Christian servanthood, even if people like me aren’t paying attention because we’re wrapped up in our favorite scandals. Continue reading
This past Saturday, I preached on the meaning of church. We’re going through the book of Ephesians in a sermon series, and Ephesians 1:23 defines the church as the “fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Since my theme was “rethinking church,” I decided to check out what resources were available from the United Methodist “Rethink Church” campaign. I found a three-year-old promotional video that I have embedded below. The video gets one thing very right when it says church is a verb, not a noun. I found that to be literally true in the original Greek of my sermon text for the weekend. However, the video also gets something very wrong. It makes “us” the subject of the sentence in which “church” is a verb, instead of Jesus, whose name doesn’t appear anywhere in the entire video.
In the second sermon of our church’s “Big Picture” series, we looked at the meaning of church as described in Ephesians 1:23 — “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” It’s often been said as part of the Methodist “Rethink Church” campaign that church is a verb, not a noun. This is literally true in the Bible’s original Greek. Paul uses the word kleseos in Ephesians 1:18 to describe the “calling” of God’s hope. Ekklesia, the word that gets translated as “church” in Ephesians 1:23, is derived from the same root as klesous. It means literally “the calling forth,” or as I decided to name it, the song of God’s power.
Change the world. It’s such an undifferentiated, macroscopic goal — the main theme of every high school valedictorian’s speech. But how do you do it? We get the impression from our news cycles and history books that the way to change the world is to get famous and important so that you can make big decisions or give inspiring speeches that cause people to give millions of dollars. Changing the world in our time has become synonymous with becoming a celebrity. But the United Methodist Church has been taking a different approach as part of our “Rethink Church” campaign. This Saturday May 19th, several hundred thousand United Methodists around the world will be working together in simple, unglamorous ways to repair houses in the local community, gather food for hungry people, raise money for mosquito nets to stop malaria, stock items for our disaster relief teams, and dozens of other projects that pooled together actually have the potential to change the world. Continue reading