As ministers, Vicky and I come across many articles talking about how church attendance is declining. These articles tell us that record numbers of Americans are now unaffiliated with any church and more folks than ever describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” It can be a bit disheartening for us, who have dedicated our lives to working as church ministers. However, I still believe with all my heart that healthy, inclusive, supportive churches continue to play a very important role in our contemporary society.
Aside from the obvious role of helping us learn and grow spiritually, churches provide a sense of belonging and community for many folks who may otherwise be lacking these crucial supports. Churches provide a safe place for us to connect deeply with others while we learn to love one another in the way Our Way-Shower Jesus called us to do. Churches also offer us a level of accountability by allowing us to belong to a group of people—a family really—to whom we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually accountable. This involves a responsibility to love one another, and to help and support one another through all of the ups and downs of life.
At a time when churches all over the country are seeing their numbers dwindling, I am just pleased as punch that we have six people currently in the process of becoming new members at UMB. Each of these folks represent a wonderful addition to our church, and I can’t wait to see the unique and perfect contribution each will make to our beloved community.
As Vicky has always explained it, membership at UMB is an outward demonstration of an inner commitment—not only to one’s own spiritual growth and development, but also to participation in a community of folks who are seeking to love one another more perfectly. We enter voluntarily into this commitment and inevitably find that we are richly blessed by it. We are the family that each of us chooses to be a part of.
I am looking forward with great optimism and hope to see what amazing and wonderful things God will do through us at UMB.