We are a Connectional Church
As I travel around the district, one of the consistent themes that continues to come up in conversations is “the church.” Every community has one. “The church” is the new, rapidly growing church in the community. They often have a new building, with all of the bells and whistles. Worship is not in a “sanctuary,” but in a “worship center,” and is led by a rocking-out, all electric band. Their youth program draws kids from all over, and has a meeting space with a stage, fancy lights, pool tables and trendy furniture. Their pastor wears the standard “hip pastor” attire; bedazzled faded jeans, long sleeve plaid shirt with sleeves rolled up, and Chuck Taylor shoes. “The church” often has multiple sites, a large pastoral staff, and hundreds or thousands that show up on Sunday. What is “the church” in your community?
As I talk to folks from our UM churches throughout the district, conversations often start with, “If it weren’t for ‘the church’….” If it weren’t for “the church,” our church would be full. If it weren’t for “the church,” our youth group would be rocking. If it weren’t for “the church,” our finances would be in the black. When our people leave our church, they often move to “the church.” Our kids attend youth group with their friends at “the church.” When we talk about why our church is struggling, it is often because of “the church.”
“The church” easily becomes our nemesis, and the cause of our woes. It is very easy to shift responsibility for our woes, onto “the church.” In reality, there is abundance of people in every community who aren’t connected with a church, and who don’t know the love of God. The popularity of “the church” does not cause the struggles in our church.
The beauty of our United Methodist system is that we are a connectional church. Our churches do not exist or operate independently. We are dependent on each other. We support each other. Each local church is really a “missional outpost,” with a pastor appointed to the church and community as a missionary. So, in a sense, in our Canal District, we are one church, with over 20,000 members. We have 70 pastors and 70 different ministry sites. This means that we can share resources, join together in cooperative ministries, do things, dream things, and attempt things that we could never do alone. Our connectional system puts us in ministry and mission worldwide. We are a part of a movement with a rich heritage which draws us closer in love with each other, and closer in love with God. Thanks be to God.
Canal District Office:
Rev. Ed Peterson
800 E Market St.
Akron, OH 44305
Phone : 330-252-0299
Office Hours: Monday through Thursday
9;00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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