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Musings

As I packed to leave for the Cabinet Inventory retreat I found myself musing about the church.  One of the most enlightening and stimulating things I have done in ministry was to visit every church in the Central Texas Conference when I became Bishop.  In those visits I engaged the laity in a quick SWOT analysis.  What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?  I got many inspiring answers; some troubling; others puzzling.  One of the things that both surprised and puzzled me is that so few churches mention Bible study as one of their strengths.  In recently reading the REVEAL: Follow Me study, it reported that “Everywhere we turned the data revealed the same truth: spending time in the Bible is hands down the highest impact personal spiritual practice. More specifically, ‘I reflect on the meaning of Scripture in my life’ is the spiritual practice that is most predictive of growth for all three spiritual movements. There’s great significance in the word reflection. Reflecting on Scripture implies a contemplative process, one of thoughtful and careful deliberation”  (p. 114). Wesley would call this searching the scriptures.  It was a hallmark of the early Methodists and a basic part of their spiritual practices.  I find myself wondering why more churches didn’t talk about their Bible studies.  Did they take it for granted?  As a pastor I was always trying to teach.  Do we see teaching and searching the scriptures as a priority? A friend working with me on the denomination’s Transformation Table recently commented that every church has essentially three choices:  1)  Be transforming, 2) Multiply, or 3) Pass the mantle.  I connectthat statement with a comment Rev. Danny Niedecken passed on from his reading of The Cause within You by Matthew Barnett with George Barna.  The statement (on page 11) is this: "I didn't see Bethel Temple as a dying church; I saw it as a church in the early stages of being restored to greatness."  I know a lot of pastors that want to go to a growth situation.  We need pastors and lay leaders who see their church as being in an early stage of “restored to greatness.”