OHIO VALLEY DISTRICT
Marks on the Woodwork
As a young boy, I remember counting matchbox cars. I also remember counting army men, jelly beans, and pennies. I do not remember learning to count in school, or by watching Sesame Street, but count I could. There was something satisfying about knowing how many toys, pieces of candy, and how many pennies you had. We United Methodists are very good at counting.
I also remember standing in a doorway in the house and making a line on the woodwork that indicated how tall we were. We would write our name and date on the wood. I really enjoyed looking at that line move up the woodwork. It was a way to track how we were growing! I was quite taken with how tall I was at 5 compared to my height at 11. The difference was astounding! I really wanted to catch up to my brother and sister. I did, eventually. It was satisfying to measure the difference a year made in height. That difference gave much more information about growth than simply counting how many toy cars there were.
I think faith should be measured. It’s not that counting is unimportant. We should count our membership, worship attendance, and offering. We gain certain insight about our churches when we count. I think we gain greater insight when we measure the difference our faith makes in our lives and in our community. It is one thing to count how many times we attended church in the past year, but quite another to measure our participation in worship. There is attendance, and then there is the way our faith calls us to participate in worship, to cultivate and invite someone to share worship, or to share the love of Jesus through an outreach to the neighborhood. It is one thing to count attendance, but another thing to measure how Christ calls you to participate in worship. Measure the number of times you participated by reading scripture, praying, preaching, taking notes, helping others in and out of the sanctuary. In this example you are measuring the difference between passive attendance and active worship in order that you become a mature disciple of Jesus Christ.
Measuring allows us to see where we have been, where we are, and helps us anticipate where we are trying to go. When I was young, I wanted to catch up to my brother and sister. Later, I wanted to be as tall as my mom and dad. That all eventually happened. There were lots of sign posts (lines on the woodwork) along the way. Measuring requires sign posts or marks on the woodwork that allow us to focus on the difference faith is making.
This business of setting goals and measuring outcomes is about how we are moving toward our main mission of making and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. It is measuring how we are loving our neighbors so that they can see the light of Christ in us and be drawn to the light of the Lord Jesus.
Pray my friends! Ask Jesus what difference you should make in your family, your church, and what difference your church should make in the community. All kinds of ways you can make a difference will be given you. There will be lots of marks on the woodwork as you and the church make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Ohio Valley District Office:
Rev. Bruce Hitchcock
352 Canton Rd.
Wintersville, OH 43953
Phone: (740) 264-1601
Fax: (740) 264-1972
Monday through Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
(Summer Hours beginning June 21
Monday through Thursday
8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m
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