Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!
Last Sunday I was involved in a worship service that included the Apostles’ Creed.
Over the years I observed that many congregations do not include some components of a worship service that have been traditionally associated with The United Methodist church.
My assumption is that as pastors and worship leadership teams have prayerfully sorted out what lengthens worship services. In an attempt to include what appeals to a new generation of seekers some very important aspects of our faith get left out.
What was particularly noticeable and meaningful in this worship service was that a very brief explanation was given to the congregation explaining the rationale for using the Apostles’ Creed.
I am profoundly concerned about the disappearance of some of the values that have defined who we are as Christians as well as United Methodists.
Essential values of the faith have to be taught if they are to maintain a significant role in our lives. I believe that there is a direct correlation between the membership decline in our denomination and the loss of teaching the values of the faith. Rituals lose their meaning and power when we take for granted that everyone understands what we are doing and why.
In addition to practicing the core values of faith, we must explain over and over to every newcomer and to every generation why we do what we do. In this way we will continue to experience the same spirit-led explosion which ignited the Methodist revival that sweep across North America years ago.
How could we as Christians of the 21st century repeat so glaringly the same old errors of all those who have gone before us, namely, that if we no longer remember why we do what we do we will fall away from the lifeline that gives us our very breath?
Who is held accountable for explaining to us why we pray the Lord’s Prayer? Who will explain to us why we use bread and the cup during Holy Communion? Who will explain to us why a cross in the church does not have the physical body of Jesus on it?
We will destroy what we do not understand. As preachers, teachers, parents, grandparents, relatives, members, friends, neighbors, and concerned citizens, we must take responsibility for explaining why we do what we do if the values that make a difference will continue to live in the lives that belong to the future. We have assumed that what is important and fundamental to our faith will exist regardless of the amount of attention we give. Paul reminds us of this in 2Timothy 4:3:
“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.”
We must remain persistent in teaching the word of God in order to make new disciples as well as encourage those who may forget.
Jesus was always teaching the disciples, explaining the why, and so must we.
Until next time, remember – God’s will for us is good. We must do the rest.
James R. King, Jr.