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Just a Thought or Two: Reversing the Escalators

REVERSING THE ESCALATORS

Some large arenas reverse the escalators after an event so the people inside can easily move to the outside. News from Texas, Louisiana, Chicago, Yemen and other places are calling the church to “reverse the escalators.” Several years ago one Christian leader said that the critical issue for the Jesus community is no longer our seating capacity, but our sending capacity.

Churches have often been defined by their buildings, beliefs, and theology. It seems to me that more than ever the church will be known for its willingness to “reverse the escalators” so people of faith can go out and serve. James 2:17 says, faith without action, without deeds of mercy, is a dead thing.

What more can we do at First Methodist to “reverse the escalators”?


COFFEE SHOPS AND PRODUCTION VALUES

Over the last 25 years, there has been a lot of talk in the church about “attracting the unchurched.” It was a good discussion to have because too many Jesus communities seemed to be self-serving religious clubs, disconnected from the people and the real needs in their neighborhoods and cities. So churches developed campuses with top-notch coffee shops, book stores and Sunday school areas which looked like Disney World and productions with sound, light, and staging which could surpass a Broadway theater.

Getting people connected to God and a grace-filled community is a good thing. Churches need to keep reaching out to the wider world, connecting with people by developing their hospitality gifts.

But, what matters more, are churches becoming sending communities. What defines the Jesus community is not our buildings, worship style, beliefs or our coffee shop—the world will notice first whether we care, we bother, we love and we are willing to serve.

We need to “reverse the escalators” and focus on sending people more than we focus on attracting people.


WHEN THE ESCALATORS ARE REVERSED

What might it look like for our escalators to be reversed so we focus on going out to serve?

  • Help financially with Hurricane Harvey disaster relief. Make your check out “First Methodist” with “UMCOR/Harvey” on the memo line and bring it to worship Sunday or mail it to the church. Or, you can go to UMCOR online and make a donation to Advance #901670. Every dollar you give to UMCOR goes to relief efforts—not a penny is used for administrative costs!
  • Help with Hurricane Harvey relief by organizing some friends and putting together hygiene kits or cleaning buckets. Go to umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies for instructions.
  • Help with Hurricane Harvey mission rebuilding teams. Begin praying about participating on a mission work team that will head to the region when the initial cleanup is well underway and help is needed rebuilding.
     
  • The All-Church Picnic Scheduled for Sunday, September 10th from 11-2, this is a party we are throwing not only for our church but the community. Members of the Korean UMC, the Bloomington Fire Department Station #1, and the Bloomington Police Department have all been invited. This will be a wonderful opportunity to welcome people, share food with people, and make connections with the larger community. Sign up this weekend to help us set up, serve food, lead games for the children, and clean up. There’ll be great food, music, games, and fellowship.
     
  • Wednesday Food Pantry – join the amazing team of volunteers who staff our Wednesday Food Pantry.
     
  • Interfaith Faith Winter Shelter – beginning in November, First Methodist will continue its work in providing a low barrier shelter for all people during the winter months.
     
  • Adopt-a-Student – sign up to “adopt” a college student with Jubilee and be a caring contact for a student during the school year ahead.

These are just a few possibilities.

Where is God calling you to go?  

How is God calling you to serve?


LOVE ON THE ROAD

The road from Jericho to Jerusalem is steep, winding and dangerous. In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells The Parable of the Good Samaritan.” A traveler is beaten and robbed. The traveler is left for dead. People pass by but the Samaritan notices, stops, is willing to be inconvenienced, and helps.

All week long we have seen strangers helping strangers. We have seen people taking a risk to help one another—skin color, income level, political affiliation, and religious identity didn’t matter—people helped people. It seems as though in the images of people being led through water, being airlifted from flooded homes and babies being held by Marine rescue teams, God is reminding us who He calls us to be.

The world needs us to notice, to stop, to be willing to be inconvenienced, and to help. We need to “reverse the escalators” by getting out there where the hurt and need are. All that need is an opportunity to bless, share and love!

Grace and peace in Christ,

Pastor Mark 

 

 

First Methodist