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.