Skip to content

CLUB 444: Tough Questions that Demand Answers…Our Answers.

June 6, 2022

—- by Rev. Dr. Drew Shelley, Senior Pastor at First United Methodist of Murfreesboro.

Frustrating misrepresentations of motive regarding potential splitting of our United Methodist Church around human sexuality leave our Methodist people angry and confused.  You may be confused, too.   

Layers of conflict mask deeper understanding about our denomination’s future.    

First, we are a global denomination in covenant with God and each other fulfilling God’s mission in the world.  Covenant is a faithful way of being together – not the easy way.  Our hyper-politicized world pressures some toward easy exit.   

Second, external pressures to oversimplify our struggles heighten tensions within.  Some leverage external pressures for internal gain – doing harm to the Body of Christ and our witness in the world.  I confess complicity in my long silence.   

Third, confusion abounds about impending split.  To clarify, this is not a question of progressive vs. traditional theology, liberal vs. conservative politics, or Biblical authority (no one suggests expelling Bibles from Methodist churches).  Most dangerously, this is not a question of churches deciding to be pro- or anti-gay.   

These divisive questions disappoint a church striving to be pro-Jesus-for-all.  

The real questions for the church are:

How do we understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in Scriptures?  

How shall we order our lives to live that Gospel?   

Healthy Methodists ask these questions.  Consequently, LGBTQIA+ persons find a healthy home within our church which affirms traditional marriage, says “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” and “all persons are of sacred worth.”  Only God can resolve this paradox! 

We have answered the fundamental human sexuality question in Gospel light:  Can LGBTQIA+ persons be faithful Christians?   

The Bible says yes.  One who professes faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior is to be called and treated as a Christian.  Loving community comprised entirely of sinners being saved by God’s grace nourishes that faith.   

In this community of Christ followers, all identify as sinners being saved by God’s grace.  We accept each other as Jesus has accepted us, bear with each other in love, and help each other mature with gracious, mutual accountability.  It is a holy mystery for the world’s good.   

We order our covenant life from Gospel perspective – not non-Biblical perspectives demanding selective moral perfection before inclusion in Christ’s family.   

Still, we don’t have it all together.

The Global Methodist Church recently left –  breaking covenant and declaring themselves “the home for conservative Methodists.”  This isn’t true.  Conservative Methodists have no reason to leave home. This isn’t a split.  These folks left.   

Some progressives within the UMC claim victory, threaten to leave if the denomination doesn’t bend to their will, or break denominational rules as civil disobedience – forgetting that we live in covenant.  These progressive sisters and brothers are part of this family, too.   

Our denomination’s future is complicated, but we will not be manipulated and used by those who leverage culture wars to provoke unnecessary divorce distracting from the cause of Christ.  

Therefore, I remain hopeful!  People are falling in love with Jesus who changes lives daily. Here, the Spirit recently moved 400 people into active community ministry and our congregation gave an unexpected $132,000 to local ministries.

We are in the Scriptures learning and living the Gospel in the real world.  God is teaching us how to believe the best about each other until it becomes true. This is home for me.  

Our family dysfunction is on full display.  We’ll neither hide from it nor be distracted by it. 

When this controversy subsides, we’ll be growing disciples of Jesus Christ who know Him, love Him, and serve Him for the transformation of Murfreesboro and the world.   

If that warms your heart, come find a real church full of real people not afraid of real life.  We put the fun in dysfunction.  People are meeting Jesus because of it.    

This is what’s really happening in your United Methodist Churches.   

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: