Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.
By Mandy Sayers
Lead Pastor, Glen Mar UMC, Ellicott City
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a young adult attending my Charge Conference under the leadership of the district superintendent, the Rev. David Argo. We had just finished doing skits to demonstrate all the fruit of our ministry that year at Glen Mar UMC. (It was before the current, streamlined model.)
As Argo settled us down into the business of the meeting, he said he often asked a specific question at Charge Conferences: “If this church were to close tomorrow, would anyone in the community notice?”
He said in some churches, that question was met with silence so deafening you could hear a pin drop. That hasn’t been the case at any church I’ve ever been a member of or been a pastor of, but the question has stayed with me.
Wesley’s admonition to “Do Good” feels like Argo’s question. It is the firm belief that if there are United Methodists in the neighborhood, the neighborhood should certainly “notice.” Doing good also means that they should do more than notice. It means that the neighbors should be blessed because of it. Poverty should be less, and hope should be more present.
I think Wesley’s exhortation to do good is in line with Dr. Martin Luther King’s observation that the church should be a thermostat, not a thermometer. A thermostat changes the room, alters the environment, makes things different. A thermometer merely reports the way things are.
To “do good” is to be a thermostat. It is to ask where God is moving in the neighborhood, or where God needs to move, and putting on some work gloves and getting to work.
It’s easy to get a sort of paralysis these days — perhaps we are paralyzed by denominational stalemates or the bad press the church received after General Conference in St. Louis. Perhaps the craziness of the current political climate has us paralyzed, feeling helpless. If we’re not sure what to do, then let us be about doing good.
In Galatians 6:9, Paul puts it this way, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all …”
This month, get “noticed,” church. Do good.