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 Nine
Revival - What is Needed?

A Million Dollar Relationship with Jesus Christ!

Many people remember a television show in the 1950s called "The Millionaire". If you will recall the sequence, in the first half of the program, a person would be going through different problems in life and experiencing a lot of emotional turmoil. Then there would be a knock on the door; when it was opened, a Mr. Anthony would introduce himself and the purpose for his visit. He was employed by an eccentric multi-billionare who would give selected people a gift of one million dollars - tax free. The two conditions stipulated were that the recipient could not tell anyone else the source of the money, nor how much. Usually, Mr. Anthony would have to spend several minutes convincing the recipient that the offer was genuine. In the second half of the show, the person would usually have a changed life, having achieved a complete turnaround in his fortunes - and his attitude.

Earlier, we had referred to "Ten Dollar Religion" as being a cause of decline in our denomination. The "Million Dollar" relationship with Jesus Christ is more than just a comparison of the dollar amounts; it represents the transforming effect He has on our lives. The only difference between this and the television show above (aside from TV's fictional nature) is that we can and should tell others about it. It is just like a stack of checks, each for one million dollars, made out to every member of the UMC. Jesus explains it best in John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."

But there is a second aspect to accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior: the assurance of where we will be after we die. We need to look at things from God's perspective and recognize that there are truths, whether we believe them or not. Heaven is real. Hell is real. Each person who calls himself a United Methodist will spend eternity in one place or the other. Where will you be? Where will your children be?

This means that each of us needs to:
  1. Recognize that all of us are sinners: bishops, clergy, and laity (Romans 3:23).
  2. God loves us and has a plan for us (John 10:10).
  3. Repent of - that is to turn away from - our sins. We need to get them out of our lives, just like cleaning our spiritual houses (Romans 6:23).
  4. Accept the fact that Jesus died to take our sins on Himself that we might receive forgiveness for them (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).
  5. Actually make the decision to accept Him as Lord and Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8,9).

All of the members of the United Methodist Church need to truly accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior: laity, clergy, and bishops.

The Authority of the Bible

Our second need is to accept the authority of the Bible as God's word. This is interrelated with the first in that Jesus testifies to the truth of the Bible, and the Bible points to the sovereignty of Christ as Lord and Savior. Concurrently, the Bible must be central to our spiritual authority in our individual lives, homes, and church.

Architectural Changes Needed for Revival

  1. The focus of ministry needs to be the local church. We need to recognize that this is the basic field of outreach in our denomination and is the UMC's main interface to the secular world.
  2. The prioritization of ministry needs to be from the local to the general church (a "bottom-up" as opposed to a "top-down" philosophy). Requirements should originate at the local church. In that vein, all other elements of the UMC's structure should support the local church in its ministry. This means that a main function of the bishop is to facilitate each of his district superintendents In their functions of supporting the pastors in the ministries of their local churches.
  3. In the local church the function of the pastor should be to provide biblically spiritual nurture to his congregation, which should be considered a sacred trust from God.
  4. Title to the property of a local church needs to be held by the local church. When a church building is constructed, financed, and cared for by the people in a congregation, they should own it.
  5. The UMC's bureaucracies need to be downsized to compensate to the minimal functional level and commensurate with the support it receives from freewill offerings. One example is the huge GBGM staff that outnumbers the total full-time UM overseas missionary force. Brazilian Methodists took a radical step in their church, getting rid of most of the overhead it supported and almost "starting over."(1) We need to.
  6. Stewardship. The mandatory apportionment should be eliminated In favor of the voluntary, biblical offering. Pressure and coercion to give should never be used to compel people to contribute against their better judgment as specified in 2 Corinthians 9:7. Some laity hesitate to give because of misuse of money. Churches should recognize their "first benevolent responsibility" is to pay the apportionment, but there is a prior responsibility for responsible spiritual leadership in the institution of the United Methodist Church. Since employees insist on concentrating money and activities on sociopolitical priorities, then people should be freed from the compulsion of giving through the mandatory apportionment, because use of that money violates their consciences.
  7. Accountability. If our denominational employees and leaders will not abide by the Bible and the Book of Discipline, and will not provide leadership to ensure maintenance of the connection, they should not expect local churches and individuals to feel obligated to support their activities through the apportionment, voluntary or otherwise. The laity have the right to provide practical, uncoerced support wherever they wish, and to not support what they view as defective spiritual leadership with their offerings - because the money belongs to the Lord, not to any man-made institution.

In conclusion, we have examined just some of the "malignant tumors" that are problems in our denomination; it has been unpleasant, but necessary. 2,379,976 people have left our church over the past twenty nine years. They are gone. Their money is gone and is working elsewhere. But if they had stayed, been a voice for truth, worked for revival, and contributed their money for that purpose in informing others as to what is happening, we would have a different denomination today. Just think of it: 2,379,976 people using their money for the Lord to bring renewal to the United Methodist Church!

  1. Go, General Conference! by Rev. Larry Eisenberg, Tulsa, OK; p. 43.


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