Saturday, 6 October 2012

I'm your Neighbour too, cries the Church

Jesus response to a question regarding the identity of the "neighbour" is very popular not only to the people in the Church, but also those outside it. A lot has been written or said about The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

                           The Forgotten Neighbour
We are often told to put ourselves in the shoes of the bruised man who needed help. My focus of imagination for this article is not about a person. It's about the Church. It is very easy to forget that the Church is also our neighbour which needs our help. I can imagine a church out there on the road which is "bruised" and needs urgent help. The help the church need is not always financial, but human capacity and all its attributes.

                          Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
 Like the Priest and the Levite who saw the man needed help and walked off, many people have come to the church, seen the need and done nothing and just walked off. I am sure the priest and the Levite have reasons for not staying to help. So are the people who are walking off their church. People come to church with lots of expectations seeking fulfilment. When their expectations aren't fulfilled they walk off. People are shopping church pretty the same way they shop for grocery. With little complaint or dissatisfaction and they hit the exit button. The church is supposed to be a place where people who are hurt could go and receive healing. However, we shouldn't be quick to hit the exit button any time we feel hurt. All what we care is getting our needs fulfilled. Does it always have to be us? What about the church? It has needs too. Surely, if we need something from the church we must first put in something.

                         When staying isn't enough
There are some who seem to be patting themselves at the back that unlike those who walked off, they have stayed. It's good you've stayed but doing nothing during your time of staying isn't enough. The Samaritan in the story didn't get mention in the scripture because he stayed and watched while the bruised man suffered. He also didn't go out to town and complained about seeing a man bruised and needing help. The Samaritan didn't just pity the man and walked off. We are told the Samaritan soothed the man's wounds with medicine and bandaged. He also took the man to an inn and took care of him. It's what the Samaritan did to the bruised man which Christ praised. We aren't just called to come and sit in the pews. We need to get up and do something. The church would be much healthier if we all do something. What would you offer your "bruised" church?

                        Others would do It. 
Don't make mistake thinking others would do it. Of all the three (Priest, Levite, Samaritan) who witnessed the man's desperate need for help who would you think should have helped? You might think the priests should have helped because of his position in Society. The Levite who's of the same tribute of the suffering man didn't help. None of the two helped. The help came from the odd one, the Samaritan.

                      Feeling Insignificant?
What's the excuse for your inaction? Because you are new, young, past experience, foreigner, background or just think you're so insignificant? The good news is that God has excellent record of using insignificant places and people to achieve great things. You remember Bethlehem? If a Saviour was born in a small populated city of Bethlehem, then God could do anything at any place and with any one. "But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are" (1 Corinthians 1: 27-28) It was the despised Samaritan who saw the man's need; took pity and actually helped.

The church also has need needing attention. Would you just take pity and walk off? What have you got to soothe the "wounds" of your church? Would you offer advice, money, a singing voice, prayer, a smile, a kindness, a cuddle, phone call? Every little helps! When thinking of your neighbours, think of your church too. Whatever is good for your neighbour is good for your church too. The health of the church must concern all of us not just the few. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

What have you been arguing about?

Christ Jesus took his disciples for a walk through Galilee. He made sure nobody got to know about their presence in the vicinity because of the information he wanted to share with the disciples. He spoke to them about his impending death. Unfortunately, the disciples didn't get what Christ meant, and didn't want to ask any question. It appears the reason why they didn't want to ask questions was because their minds were preoccupied with something else- who is the greatest? Christ wanted to talk to them about something as important as his death but the disciples were busily arguing and debating about the greatest amongst them.

Later Christ asked the disciples what they were arguing about on the way. We shouldn't be surprised that Christ knows what we have been craving for- selfish ambition in our hearts. The disciples kept quiet about the question because they were ashamed of what they have been doing. Years down the line and the same debate rages on. Who's the greatest? Who has the greatest;  TV audience, membership, influence, power etc. Jealousy and bragging amongst Christians, churches, denominations has reached an alarming proportion. We have allowed the spirit of rivalry to take hold of our hearts. It is very common to hear churches, pastors arguing about trivial things. People are plotting to knock each other off the top spot.

The church is divided along the lines of many things. Precious time and resources is spent arguing and debating issues such as women in church leadership, homosexuality, and gay marriage. In many ways we have set aside what really is the important thing and are arguing about the unnecessary things. We have been making a case for ourselves instead of a case for Christ.

What have you been spending time arguing and debating at church meetings? Would you be proud or embarrassed if Christ inquire what have you been arguing about? Instead of knocking each other off, why don't we lift each up. Greatness is about humility and obedience and that is what we should crave for.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Leave it alone for one more year and....

Jesus's listeners thought they were good people because they hadn't suffered similar fate to those Galileans whose blood were mingled with their sacrifice. They associated physical suffering with some evil done. Don't deceive yourself thinking that righteousness is measured by level of physical suffering. The key thing is the fruit you bear; which come by repentance. By their fruits you will know them. 

Christ obviously shocked by His listeners line of reasoning sought to point them to the right path, by using the analogy of a fig tree. Repent or Perish.  By our own standard we think we're better than others. By the listeners of Christ their measuring tape was the level of physical suffering.  Note the vineyard dresser's report- the tree was full of life; no physical damaged, and yet the vineyard owner found no fruit. The vineyard owner couldn't hide his disappointment. We all do when we thought we have done all what we could to receive something positive and all we get is negative; when we thought we've done all we could to expect good behaviour from our children and all we get is bad behaviour. It's very natural that we'll feel disappointed. Since we're amongst  the seed that fell on good ground, we're expected to produce fruits. The vineyard owner had waited far too long.

Years ago I watched a film called "save the last dance". In the film was a lone parent with a baby boy. The boy's father was supposed to come and get him for a weekend, but always had an excuse that he had to go to work. One day this lady who obviously has had enough of the man's excuse exploded "I ain't seen the fruit   of that labour". "What do you think I feed your son with, oxygen"? In other words, why don't I get some fruit of your labour?

Friends, we've been in the Christian Ministry for a long time. The vineyard owner needs some fruit to celebrate His investment. Christ himself and the apostles suffered a lot for the gospel. It's time we begin to bear fruit of that investment. John the Baptist said to the multitudes going out to see him, do those things that will show that you have turned from your sins. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

The gospel of Chris must drive us to do things which otherwise we wouldn't have done; must drive us into places that otherwise we wouldn't have ventured, and must move us to talk, and help others that otherwise we wouldn't have thought off. Should Christ come now, will He find the desired fruit? The gardener is pleading on our behalf for a second chance. God is prepared to give us a second opportunity for repentance. Would you take it?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship Celebrate its 10th Anniversary

The Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship-UK Chaplaincy is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in September. The theme for the celebration is: 10 years of Integration, Prospects and Challenges. We're excited about the decade of existence, and we look back in thankfulness and adoration to God who has led us over the years. Events marking the celebration started in July with a Variety Day of Exhibition, a Musical Concert and rounded the day off with a splendid dramatization on the life and work of Revd. Thomas Birch Freeman in Gold Coast now Ghana. This event took place at Walworth Methodist Church.

Although we say it's our 10th Anniversary, the Fellowship has existed in some shape or form since 1995. However, it was in 2002 when the Methodist Church Ghana and Methodist Church Britain decided to bring the various Ghanaian Methodist Fellowships in London under one umbrella with the appointment of a first Chaplain. The Chaplaincy was thus born in 2002.

Since then the Fellowship has grown in size with with various organisations such as the Men's Fellowship, Women's Fellowship, Susannah Wesley Mission Auxiliary, Choir, Christ Little Band and Junior Fellowship all performing very important activities within and outside the Fellowship. Membership is drawn from all local Methodist Church in and around London. The Fellowship shares all core values of the Methodist Church Britain.

The aim of the Fellowship is to help Ghanaians to integrate into local Methodist Churches. Many Fellowship members are serving their local Methodist church in various roles such as Local Preachers, Sunday school teachers, Organist, Worship Leaders and Circuit officers. The Fellowship now holds monthly services at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, on the second Sunday and St. Marks Methodist church in Tottenham on the fourth Sunday. There are also two sister Fellowships in Nottingham and Glasgow.

The Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship has participated in various programmes to forge closer relationship between Methodist Church Ghana and Methodist Church Britain. Recent activities include participation in "More Than Gold" programme, Annual Fun Games, Choir Concerts at various Methodist churches in Britain, Youth Exchange trips to Ghana and Britain, Ministerial Exchange trips to Ghana and Britain

We thank both Methodist Church Ghana and Methodist Church Britain for agreeing to such agreement that while trying to adapt to the British way of doing things, we're also allowed to celebrate our cultural diversity and traditional way of doing things. We are very much grateful to the London District for its continued support to the Chaplaincy.

Other events marking the celebration are: Brass Band Procession in London on Saturday 8th September, Anniversary Thanksgiving on Sunday 9th September at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, and Banqueting and Fund raising event on Saturday 20th October at Ivory Mansion in Leytonstone. We extend invitation to all and sundry to join us in the celebration. For more information about the Fellowship and celebration activities, please check

Friday, 10 August 2012

Have Some Bread. No Thanks!!

Haven't we had enough of bread? Many of us would have had bread today. In the past weeks the Lectionary has been talking about bread and its bread again this week. This time the bread we've been hearing about is manifesting itself. Then Jesus declared "I am the bread of life" Those who come to me will never be hungry;   those who believe in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).

That declaration led to grumbling amongst his listeners. The other day, over the other side of the lake of Galilee, the crowd had become hungry and were pleased to have been fed by Christ. Today, they're hungry again and have tracked Jesus down in Capernaum, hoping to have another free lunch. But there's no such thing as free lunch. When Jesus told them that He's the true bread and those who come to him wouldn't be hungry again or thirst again they grumbled. Like Nicodemus in his born again encounter with Christ, the listeners of Christ had no spiritual incline of what he was talking about. They wanted bread with no conditionality attached.

Their grumbling exposed their lack of spiritual thinking. All that they crave for is physical. All they want is bread to quench their physical hunger today. They don't care about what happens tomorrow. Christ's listeners didn't understand why Jesus would link common bread which can be bought in many shops to God and more importantly to himself that he's the bread of life which came from heaven. They were literally saying we know you so stop pretending to be someone else. If you've got some bread give it to us and stop pretending you're something special.

We all love a bit of tradition. Many of us would like to continue to shop in where our grandparents and parents shopped. We wouldn't like to change our shopping habits. The same with Christ listeners; their ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and wanted to continue the status quo.

But Christ reminded them of what happened to their ancestors. After years of eating manna in the wilderness, your ancestors died. Now I am the new source of bread and if you reject me you too will die just like your ancestors. Christ is saying you could eat as many physical bread as you can but these wouldn't grant you eternal life. Only by having Christ would guarantee you eternal life.

And how do we eat Christ's flesh and drink his bread? Through prayer, regular reading and studying of scripture, and putting into practice what scripture tells us. Sadly, many people are still grumbling about this bread offer. People will "eat and drink" anything but offer them the "bread of life" and would reject it. What is it to grumble about?

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Don't be satisfied with just getting near the Kingdom

Spain just won the 14th European Championship for national football teams organised by UEFA. None of the 16 teams which took part in the tournament is going to say well at least we made it to Euro 2012, or at least we came close winning it. Whether they came out of the group stages, quarter, semi or finals, the post mortem have long began to ascertain why some teams performed so badly or why some came closer to win but couldn't do it.

 In the Bible one man who came close to the Kingdom but couldn't enter was Herod (Mark 6:20) Since then many have come close but haven't entered.Think of all the sermons you have heard urging you to become a Christian. Many of us have since Sunday school years heard the gospel preached to us. Many have had Christian parents, wives and husbands who have encouraged us to to give our lives to Christ. We've been to many conferences and crusades where we've promised ourselves that this is the moment of surrender and yet couldn't go through with that promise. There are several times that we could recall moved and impressed by sermons but have failed to take the step to give our life to Christ. We've been near the Kingdom of God. 

Many of us have also assumed the wrong things for taking us to the Kingdom of God for example church attendance. That would have been like the 16 teams who took part in the Euro 2012. Turning up and not playing by the rules couldn't win any team any trophy. Some of the teams in the Euro 2012 came close to winning the trophy but couldn't because certain things were holding them back. Some hadn't giving up the in fighting in the team. Same with us and the Kingdom of God. We can't attain it until we give up anything which is holding us. In most cases one thing which holds us back from entering the Kingdom of God is sin. 

 In the Euro 2012 final, soon after Spain scored the second goal it became clear that Italy had no chance in the game. For us no matter how much we've lost, we still have the chance of reaching the Kingdom of God. It is not too late to come back to it. No matter how many own goals or from the opponent we've conceded, we still have the chance of getting into the Kingdom of God. 

 We've come near the Kingdom of God several times and for many years. Now may be the time to try and win it. We've put off the decision to enter the Kingdom numerous times. Time may be running out. Nobody had ever retained the European crown, but Spain has done it this year. Spain is now thinking about how it could retain the trophy next time round. If you're sure you've attained the Kingdom, can you retain it?

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

What's the GDP of Preaching?

That was an excellent, lovely, interesting, challenging....sermon. Is that it? Is that all it's about? You spend hours and days on one sermon and all you get is some adjectives. Gross domestic product (GDP), refers to the market value of all officially recognised final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. Of all "goods and services" produced in a church in a given period, what is the "value" we place on preaching? Try asking those members of the congregation who throw in those adjectives to describe which part of the preaching they find excellent, lovely, interesting and challenging and they will struggle.

Take a particular Sunday worship experience. Which aspects of the worship do you think will be much talked about in hours or few days time? Unless the preaching was really very bad, or something very controversial was said, chances are that the preaching would soon be forgotten. It is not easy to place a value on preaching. The end product of the preaching is not always easy to see. The word of God is sharper than any double -edged sword,  which penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, but we aren't going to see any blood pouring out of any one when the Word of God is preached. If you can't see the end product how are you going to place a value on it?

On the contrary, the end products of other aspects of church life such as the music, healing, children/ youth work, and other mission work are are easy to see and can be valued. For instance some people might be attracted to your church because of your style of music. Some might come because of your healing ministry. Some might come because of your children/ youth ministry. Others might still come because of your mission work in the community or abroad. Very rarely would you hear people say I have come because of your preaching.

I am wondering whether the somewhat lack of real product of preaching has compelled some churches/Ministers to diversify to engage in all sorts of mission work just to make themselves fell popular and important. Many churches have now moved from their primary product which is preaching the Word into other sectors. Many churches are now investing time and energy in things such as the music, book sale, healing service and other voluntary works. Those Pastor/Ministers with no "add ons" are some how marginalised.

I know church's business is not only to prepare people to be exported to heaven. The socio-economic well being of people while on earth are equally important. However, the rate of diversification should be kept in check in order not to lose our primary objective which is to preach the Word. We can sing and dance to the fantastic music and do all the voluntary works in the community but if the Word is lacking, we would become empty barrels- only making the loudest noise.

In our efforts to diversify let us not forget the primary objective of church. Some resources should be kept to strengthen and boost the primary objective which is to preach the Word. In effect when the Word is rightly preached all other things shall be added unto thee. As a Pastor or a Minister what is your work ratio to preaching the Word. Are you over- burdened with other mission work? Think about your call into the ministry. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Being Fruitful

Few of my friends have suggested that I haven't been much "fruitful" in life. And they say part of the reason is that I have been too "abiding" in my Christian life. They suggest that I step out of my Christian box and try something different. Any time I have heard that I have laughed. They have no idea that any time I have tried any of the ideas they have suggested it has turned to be disaster after disaster. God has let me ran off the rail few times but have quickly ran back. I guess the message God is sending out to me is you run from me at your own peril; you can do nothing without me. When you are not part of the vine you have the liberty to do whatever you like. Once on board the vine, leaving it has a dire consequences either immediate or in the future.

 In the village where I grew up it's common for people of certain age to sense that their time of departure is approaching. When they realise that time is near they will summon all their love ones near and far to a meeting. In the meeting they will tell their love ones how they should live their lives once they are gone. I guess similar to that is what Christ had in mind when he called his disciples together and told them about The Vine and the Branches. Christ told the disciples how to live once he is physically away from them. The aim of the of the passage is more fruit for God's glory, and the path to that fruit-bearing is on abiding in Christ, and his word abiding in us. And prayer, according to verse 7, is an important ingredient of that abiding in Christ and having his word abiding in us.

Once you have decided to have relationship with Christ you must be prepared for some pruning exercise. Not long ago while walking with my wife on the street we came across some men cutting down some branches of the trees on the road side. I asked my wife why they had to do that since the branches looked fine to me. My wife just pointed to the writings on the packed vans. Tree surgeons were the writings. Her point was that if those people are surgeons then they are expert. They know what they are doing. Who could be more expert than God?.  Sometimes by our human eyes we see nothing wrong with some idea, habit or project but God does. Sometimes we seek immediate growth but God seeks growth in the future. So whiles we may be disappointed for not getting the 6 figure salary job, all that could be God's way of pruning.

Fruit bearing is an important task expected of every Christian and the most surest way of bearing fruit is to undergo pruning. Of course pruning is an expensive and painful task yet once it's done, you are sure of getting some fruits back. God has no desire to hurt us. He only wants the best from us and for us.

Pruning doesn't have to be God's exclusive right. We all can learn and participate in the pruning exercise. In times of austerity, governments and organisations are cutting down things which hinders growth. For a church to grow it must seriously engage in pruning of its activities.Are there some church activities we must stop, to make time for others which might yield fruits? As individuals we must be able to rid ourselves of unnecessarily habits, lifestyles and activities which hinders growth. We can't be expert as God when it comes to pruning but at least we try. Now could be the best time to start pruning.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Recipe for a Fruitful Church

Many of us have been to places and tasted food and loved it so much that we have asked for the recipe so that we could try it at home. The method for attaining a desired result is not only limited to food but also school administration, work, church and raising up a family. Many have packaged these recipes and made some cash from it. I wonder how many of us have tried the nice recipe found in the the book of Acts 2: 42. These are 4 recipes for a fruitful church and they are; Doctrine or Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread or Communion and Prayer. Apart from few churches I know who don't have regular communion, the rest of the recipes i.e. teaching, fellowship, and prayer are common rituals with most churches. The key question is what should be the end result of all these teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer? It could be seen from the referenced text that all these activities yielded result hence peoples lives were saved as more people joined them, Acts 2:47. If this church was a company you could say that they had gains or profit as a result of the investment made. What you sow is what you get all things being equal.The church invested in those things and yielded results. There are some instances when we have followed the recipe instructions given to us but have not arrived at the desired results. In some cases we will phone friends to complain that our food didn't taste what we had wanted, or if its not about food we would go to some forum to complain bitterly that we didn't get the right result after following set of instructions. Some might end up getting a refund of their money if they had bought the recipe. What we often forget is that the mistake could be our own making. In the case of food recipe you might not get the desired result for some of the following reasons; poor quality of the ingredients, wrong proportion, wrong timing. So why is that some churches have followed these recipes diligently but have not had the desired result? Have those churches got too much and less of some ingredients? Have they for e.g. spent too much time on teachings and less on prayer and vice versa? Have we completely forgotten some ingredients? One important ingredient on the list which can easily be forgotten is fellowship. The only way to attain a fruitful church is to pay equal attention to these recipes- Doctrine/Teaching, Fellowship, Communion, Prayer. Have you critically checked your prayer life? What teachings are you giving to people? And just what do you call fellowship?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Jesus will crack the whip again

Many rational people would react when they see that something isn't right. Whatever made Jesus to react this way might have been very infuriating. Jesus went to the Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and ended up doing a clean up exercise in the temple. In the process many of the people gathered were whipped. Would Jesus crack the whip if he visited a worship place today? I would say yes. One may be tempted to say that wouldn't happen today because we no longer offer animal sacrifice. If you look at it that way then you've missed the main point of Jesus's action. It was a religious practice for people to offer animal sacrifice so Christ didn't have any problem with that. His protestation was against the businesses set up to exploit people on the way to worship and offer their sacrifice. The merchants were the ones directing the worshippers what animal to buy and the size. The value of the sacrifice had been lost. The merchants were doing everything they could to benefit financially from the animal sacrifice.

Fast forward that exploitation to today and you'll realised that the situation is worse. The level of exploitation that goes around in the name of Christianity and worship is unbelievable. Today church isn't just an institution preparing people for heaven. Church is now a multi billion dollar business with many stakeholders; pastors, musicians, authors all position themselves to gain as much as they can get. Today, people will package anything for sale; prayers, counselling, sermons, music etc.. I had an email from a pastor asking me to pay some US dollars and in exchange download "how you can make visitors stay in your church". I hit the delete button quickly. You can keep your master plan for making visitors stay in church. Sow a seed of $50.00 dollars and see your life transformed within weeks.What! Where do we read in the Bible that Jesus asked for anything in return for something? If he asked anything at all it was a simple question, do you believe?

I believe that churches and pastors must do everything they can to get the gospel message out but sometimes the extravagant and aggressive tools employed by some churches and pastors makes me wonder whether it's about themselves or the gospel. It seems pastors aren't happy with just being pastors. They want to be authors, councillors, musicians etc... The amount of money spent in publicizing their books, music etc. is shocking.  They move from one radio, TV stations to another publicizing their books and music. What happened to the good old gospel? Are we demanding these from our pastors; are church goers demanding that pastors become authors, musicians at the same time? 

While admitting that God has blessed some people with multi talents and therefore all must be put to good use, we need to check that pastors don't lose focus of their primary work i.e. to spread the gospel. Remember they get more money from the sale of books and music than from preaching the gospel. Sadly, the target audience of all the book and music sale isn't the unchurched (those not in church), but the people who are already in church.  So while they smile about their bank balances the average church member is struggling to survive. We spend our meagre salaries on their books, sermons and music.

The excessive advert and posturing of some pastors trying to out-do one another is worrying. Christians have to be discerning to identify people who are using Christianity to advance their own popularity and income. We don't have to follow pastors and everything they do or put in the market as if they're the convey-er belts the heavenly gate. Christ might whip those pastors who sold to us all the wrong stuffs but we might not be spared for buying them. We too would be whipped. Let's put God above everything else. 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The People in our Lives

There are times when we quickly  forget what the sermon was all about before we're out of the worship place. There are other times when the sermon will be on our minds on the way home, throughout the day, week, months and some times even years. I was very touched by the sermon preached today so much that10 hours after it is still ringing in my ears. The text was from the so much talked about story, Naaman Healed of Leprosy.
The sermon was about the people in our lives, and in this case the preacher identified the people in Naaman's life as; Naaman wife's servant (a young captive from Israel), the king of Aram, king of Israel and Elisha.

I was profoundly touched by the role played by the servant. She was the least of all the people in Naaman's life so her name wasn't even mentioned. Who cares about a young captive. Yet it was the insignificant young captive girl who initiated the process of getting Naaman healed from his leprosy, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy". Who are the people in your life and how do you rate them? There are some people in our lives whom we'll do whatever it takes to keep the relationship and others that you don't care what happens to them. It's difficult to tell how each of the people in our lives could effect us in the future. Since no one can tell what might happen in the future it's best to treat people with respect and dignity.

It's very easy to start a relationship be it social or business but how to nurture such relationship is the problem. Day after day people come to our lives consciously or unconsciously who might bless us today or in the future but we do dismiss them for variety of reasons, including real or supposed intellect, education, wealth, nationality, tribe, faith, stereotype, and past disappointment. Some wouldn't have anything at all to do with that person because they're not from the different country or tribe, religion or denomination. What is your attitude towards people of different nationality, race, tribe, faith? What is your attitude towards people in your household? You never know what you might be missing for being snobbish. Despite Naaman's greatness something about him needed to be fixed and it took the intervention of the least significant person in his life to get that fixed. Mind that insignificant person in your life.

Friday, 27 January 2012

His was an evil spirit- What is yours?

  Jesus and his disciples had just arrived in the town of Capernaum and gone to the Synagogue to introduce themselves to the congregation. Jesus was then consulting with his protocol officer Philip, and chief of staff Peter about  how to begin the public ministry when suddenly a a man with an evil spirit struck.

   Sometimes I wish the writers of the bible had told us everything that happened. I find some scriptures very humorous. I have a funny feeling that something more happened during this encounter than what is written for us. I have a funny feeling that there was a bit pushing  going on there. Evil spirit in people will usually like to put a fight. The man was probably throwing his hands all over the place and Jesus in an attempt to calm him down might have been pushed.It might have been hilarious seeing the man with an evil spirit having a banter with Jesus

   Talking about the state of the man, many people wouldn't like to encounter Jesus or for that matter Christianity not because they don't recognise Christ's authority but because they don't want to give up certain things. It could be your social life, workaholic. It could be the drinking, or the drug problem or some habits we have acquired over the years. It could be any of these; deceit, selfishness, anger, unforgiving. Such things can equally torment us or others just like the evil spirit did to that man. We like to convince ourselves that everything is under control. No it's not under control. Our family, relatives, friends, colleagues, church members and indeed the church are the sufferers of that thing. We think we control them but its rather those things which controls us thus preventing us to be the real persons we ought to be.  Don't let that problem torment you like the evil spirit did to that man. So go on and be a man or a woman and confront Jesus with that problem, allow him to deal with it and become the better person you could be.

   How does this scripture plays into the case of for or against the healing ministry? Recently I was in a meeting (i.e. a Methodist church meeting) when this issue was discussed. In the end most people were of the opinion that a healing worship should be arranged separately from the normal Sunday worship and be announced in advance which I agree. However, if in the course of a normal Sunday worship an incidence happen which requires some sort of healing are you going to say oh this isn't a healing worship and I haven't prepared for this?  Christ didn't put up  an advert that he was coming to the Capernaum for a healing worship yet when the incidence happened he dealt with it. If it brings glory to God I am up for it.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Church Membership

Many of us would have had our covenant service by now. The covenant service is often celebrated on the first Sunday of the year, although some churches for various reasons celebrate it weeks later. This service is at the heart of Methodists' devotion and discipleship, and their dedication in working for social justice. As part of the covenant service "Membership Tickets" are given to all members. Membership ticket is a piece of paper with your name, Minister, and your pastoral/class leader's name written in front and your responsibility of being a member written at the back of the paper. Many people would proudly show several years of membership tickets whiles some might have misplaced the very current one they received few weeks ago.

I know there's a debate going on about whether there's the need for membership tickets in this day of age but that's not my point for writing this article. My crucial point is do people turn to the back page to read the responsibilities of being a member of the church, and if yes do they really live by those responsibilities?

As a member of The Methodist Church I am called to:
"Worship within the local church, including regular sharing in Holy Communion, and through personal prayer. Learning and Caring, through Bible study and meeting for fellowship, so that I may grow in faith and support others in their relationship. Service, by being a good neighbour in the community, challenging injustice and using my resources to support the Church in its mission in the world. Evangelism, through working out my faith in daily life and sharing Christ with others" 

If the above quote is what qualifies one to be a member of the Methodist Church then I think many people on membership roll aren't qualified to be members. Recently while updating our membership roll, I realised that many people have left the congregation and are presently attending another denomination or another Methodist church else where.

It's interesting why some members have left and I will give few of them.

1. Mobility- Gone are the days when one is born, raised, attend school, get married, start a career and retire all in the same locality. People will now move to where they think the right jobs are and when they move they turn to find a church nearby. Where there's no Methodist they will look for any other denomination.

2. Better Schools- Not only do families move around for better jobs they also move to areas they can get good schools for their kids even if that will mean changing their denominations.

3. Better Spirituality- This is the recent one I heard. Apparently some people also move church for the simple reason that they want better spirituality for themselves or their kids. And in some cases some people have moved from one local Methodist church to another preferably from the smaller to the bigger ones.

I will not fault any one for wanting to leave one particular local church. My concern however, is why won't they communicate with the one that they have left so that their names are taken off the list and in some cases seek for transfer. As I recently found out many have been approached previously to ascertain their situation but have created the impression that nothing has changed.

How can you claim to be a member of a local church when you have failed in your primary responsibility i.e worship with the local church, or fellowship let alone your service to the church and the local neighbourhood or evangelism. In some instances some members who have left the church for a long period have tiptoed back. I believe such people should go through another process of becoming members. There should be a cut-off point when one seizes to be a member. There should be nothing like once a member always a member.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Don’t wait too long to invite them back

   Some came from far away towns and cities. Others came from very close by towns. Some were families and relatives.  Others were friends and colleagues. Some were excellent guests and we enjoyed their presence.  Others were horrible and we’ve already decided never to have them in our homes again. I am talking about the guests we had for the Christmas.

   Apart from the personal invite the church also invited some personalities and neighbours to special church activities such as nativity play and carol service during the festive period. Many would have had excellent feedback. The question is how do we move on from here? Are we going to wait till another Christmas before we extend another invitation?

   Obviously, some relationships were cemented and new ones created. Many will nurture such relationships through the social media-facebook, twitter etc. But there’s nothing wrong with extending such social encounter to spiritual encounter. So instead of waiting till another Christmas why not invite them to church services and activities.

   Perhaps the events of the festivities might have left some people bruised and needing healing and therapy. Chances are that some would now consider faith in God, marriage counseling, debt counseling, healthy lifestyle, overcoming loneliness etc. I believe the church has the capacity to deal with such issues. The longer you wait the difficulty it becomes to invite them. There can’t be perfect time than now.  Let’s start inviting them back.