Methodist Mending: Our Next Few Years

A couple of nights ago my wife was mending a sweatshirt. It belonged to a fifth grader and he wanted it for a school field trip the next day. He is from a family where the basics do not always get done.

Haircuts come a little late.
Peace and quiet can be hard to come by.
Sweatshirts don’t always get mended.

So Deborah, a teacher, cut a deal with the kid and said, “Let me take your sweatshirt home, and I will bring it back tomorrow.”  Sometimes, the smile from a little kid is a smile from God.

While Deborah brought in the Kingdom, I was watching General Conference, the once every four year meeting of the United Methodist Church, online. Our church needs mending, too. And while there were great moments – the global diversity of our church, spectacular music from places near and far, and diseases like malaria being beaten back by our church work – there were also holes torn in our connectional fabric. At times it was as if we, in Jesus’ name, put our Bibles down and forgot how to talk to those with whom we disagree.

Words ravel and unravel, they tear and weave.

Like our nation, I wonder if we have forgotten how to have a conversation? Personally, I value having a church that debates. The social issues our church faces are enormous and the challenge of being a witness and mission to the world we find ourselves in is even more gargantuan. I need Jesus and others to figure this out. When I said yes to Jesus I was asked only to follow. There was no doctrinal test or political survey that accompanied His invitation. As I look back, it is a little scary how little Jesus asked me to know. As I remember that moment, however, he did ask some things. He asked me to trust and love and along the way we would work the rest out. And we have.

Over the years, most of my ministry has been about inviting the frayed outside the usual United Methodist fold, in. I have had more cups of coffee with lost, found, rich, poor, addicted, adulterer, gay, straight, strippers, conservatives, liberals, abused, broken, you-put-the-adjective-and-it fits people than I can count. And I have told them that Jesus loves them wildly, and that in the United Methodist Church – while it is far from perfect – there is a place to call home. Say yes to Jesus, we will work the rest out.

I like to think that is still true.

A few weeks from now I will begin a new role for our church as Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church, Houston – one of the most historic, leading congregations in our denomination in the middle of America’s most diverse city. While I do not know our future, I do believe the Lord has shown me in Houston we can help find the way. In the city with people from every nation under heaven, there can be Pentecost again.

So as General Conference ends, I am committed to finding threads. Some will need mending, some will be new, but I want to help and over these next years and see what we, in Jesus’ name, can weave.



(thanks for reading, as always if you found Jesus in this please comment and share)

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13 Responses to “Methodist Mending: Our Next Few Years”

  1. Scott (aka Table97) May 20, 2016 at 8:40 am #

    You said it well! May God be with you as you start your new journey in Houston!

  2. Carol Tardiff May 20, 2016 at 8:51 am #

    Andy, we at First Methodist are excited to be a part of the new chapter in your ministry. I agree totally that there is too much hateful rhetoric and it tears at my heartstrings and know God’s heart hurts to see us missing the real purpose of Christ on earth and in our hearts. May we all be open to new ideas that further His Kingdom

    • May 20, 2016 at 8:54 am #

      THANK YOU SO MUCH! Deborah and I are so excited about the past, present, & future of our church!

  3. Bob East May 20, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    Well said; humble servant. Please keep writing the blog. I needed this.

  4. Leo Tyler May 20, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    I look forward to joining you in the mending!!!!

  5. Nancy Baker May 20, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    This is why I’m glad to call you Teacher, as Jesus was and is Rabbi (Teacher).

  6. Polly Kinnibrugh May 20, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    First Methodist is my home & now yours. So exciting! I pledge in all my dealings to try and say YES to Jesus.

  7. Kathleen Steed May 20, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    Is pounding on the altar table and screaming considered a debate? When debate ends and the vote is against you, does that mean debate is over? When the votes are taken and the decisions are made and confirmed as part of the Discipline, is it right to ignore them because you voted the other way? How can a house divided against itself continue to stand? It can’t. Majority rules, rules should be followed, all old concepts in this day and age of rules were made to be broken, what I want rules, regardless of the rest of the organization. The Methodist Church can not stand if it won’t take a stand. Writing the rules one way and then refusing to enforce them is not going to allow growth. The General Conference should have answered the same sex marriage issue one way or the other.

    • May 20, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      Thanks Kathleen. I share much of your frustration, my only question would be (as I think our Bishop’s share) is – can we be a church together in spite of differences? I am praying about this – with one baptism, one holy communion, common scriptures, work against disease, poverty, refugees, etc…is there common ground?

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