Foreword

Acknowledgements

Julie

Visible Problem Indicators

Stewardship

Agents of Change - Issues

Institutional Dynamics

The Institutional and the Local Church

Operative Theology

Prognosis for the Future

Revival - What is Needed?

Closing Remarks

Chapter Ten
Closing Remarks

In December of 1979, as a young army officer experienced in the Vietnam war and the potential battlefields of Europe, I stood before a room full of senior military officers and civilians as I was briefing Major General William J. Hilsman, who was known to have a volatile temper. The subject of my analysis was that of battlefield communications, the doctrine espoused by General Hilsman's own command. I could have remained silent and not incurred the ire of some very powerful people in the room that day, but I preferred to risk my career to bring to their attention the fallacies of the system as it existed. To have remained silent might have meant the lives of countless soldiers, should the Soviets have unleashed their tanks, artillery, and aircraft against our outnumbered forces. The efficacy of those recommendations to streamline battlefield communications can be seen in the results of Operation Desert Storm, the last significant military effort in which I participated. The risk that I took paled in comparison to the fact that the battle was won and lives were saved.

How much more important to the eternal futures of countless souls is it for us to set aside any risk in our professional careers and personal lives to clearly communicate the saving message of Jesus Christ, while combating the forces of secularism that threaten to take over our United Methodist Church? Corporately, we must do this if our denomination is to have a viable future as a Christian institution.

South Georgia

....I was thinking as to how I might respond to his question, "Why should I stay?" I always invite the "hard" challenges when I speak, but his was very direct. Finally, I glanced at him and then spoke to the congregation as a whole:

Think back to the beginnings of Methodism. One man, who had his heart warmed and entered a "Million Dollar Relationship" with Jesus Christ had a burning desire to save souls. A by-product of his concern for the welfare of others was helping them resolve their physical and social needs as well. Through his efforts, British society was transformed in such a way that the improvements prevented the revolution that devastated France. When Methodism came to the New World, it was a civilizing force in the development of our country. As the frontier swept westward, Methodist circuit riders took the gospel message to settlers and lives were changed. During those times, if you were to go into a village and find two churches, the chances were good that one would be Methodist. Methodism came to be known as "America's church." All of this through the efforts of just one man who had a life-changing experience with Jesus Christ - John Wesley.

Now think about today. What if we could, by some miracle, change the 8.5 million members of the United Methodist Church into 8.5 million John Wesleys. What would happen? We would turn this country upside down for Jesus Christ! Do you know the problems we are having with declining morality? As lives were changed, these would disappear, and our society would be rejuvenated. It wouldn't stop at our borders, but would erupt out of our country. We would have United Methodists taking message of Jesus Christ all over the world - and you would see the world changed! Think about it.

Yes, just think about it!

That is why the United Methodist Church is worth fighting for.


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