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Just A Thought or Two: Why Is Good News So Easily Missed?

Why Is Good News So Easily Missed?

good-newsThere is no doubt about it: there is some bad stuff happening in our world. There is too much injustice and violence, too much hate and fear; but there is good news. There is a lot of good news. Why is good news so easily missed?

Bad news makes people rich and powerful

The truth is, bad news is one way for news organizations to gain viewers and readers, and it is a proven way for politicians to gain and keep power. So we are constantly being fed stories that make it look like the world is collapsing. There is money to be made and there is power to be gained by “selling” bad news.

Is there good news?

Good news in all sorts of areas

Every now and then, I stumble across information that contradicts the total-doom-and-gloom being sold. For example, I recently read an article which stated that more than 700,000,000 people have been lifted out of poverty around the world during the last decade. I’m still digging around to confirm that report but the news was encouraging! There are still over a billion people living in poverty, and yet the percentage of the human race living in extreme poverty has declined dramatically, according to the World Bank.

The teen birth rate in the U.S. is at a record low, according to the Pew Research organization and the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate has dropped below 25 births per 1,000 teen females. (This is good news because children born to unmarried teenagers are far more likely to live lives of poverty.)

While some leaders keep telling us that the economy is on the verge of a collapse, the truth is that in many ways the American economy has bounced back from the great recession of 2006-2007. At that time we were losing 800,000 jobs per month, the banking industry was on the verge of collapse, and a bipartisan effort led to steps that slowly turned things around. While too many high-paying manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and too many cities in Indiana struggle, the truth is that since 2009 the U.S. has created more jobs than every other advanced economy.

Even as the Zika virus is causing alarm, great progress has been made in the fight against malaria. (Helped in large part by the United Methodist Church’s $75 million dollar “Imagine No Malaria” partnership with the NBA and the “Nothing But Nets” campaign.)

You may hear unsettling news out of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference in Portland, Oregon this week and next, but still there are all kinds of amazing things happening in local congregations, colleges, medical centers, community centers, and mission outposts around the world. A mission team from FUMC and The Open Door will soon participate in the amazing work of Mission Guatemala.

Is there good news closer to home? Yes!

Good news closer to home

Here are just a few of the things I see happening from my vantage-point here at First United Methodist (and I see only a part of what God is doing in and through this Jesus community):

  • Every Wednesday afternoon hungry people are being fed through our Wednesday Food Pantry.
  • Every weekday morning children are welcomed to our outstanding Pre-School where they find a loving, healthy environment in this faith-based outreach to children where all (no matter their faith) are welcomed.
  • The numbers of children participating in our Sunday school ministries has grown.
  • People in Bloomington, with no connection to FUMC, are telling our members, “We hear amazing things are happening in your church for children and younger families!” FUMC is becoming known as a faith community where children are valued and loved and celebrated.
  • Teenage boys regularly gather for conversation and prayer over breakfast with our Senior High Youth Ministry leaders.
  • A shut-in is regularly visited by a FUMC member who sits with her, and reads to her. Other shut-ins are blessed by FUMC members who stop by for conversation.
  • Amazing teams of laity are working to plan ways we can respond to the spiritual hunger of all sorts of people.
  • Our Church Council has recently begun a strategic planning process as we look ahead to the program/ministry year that will run August 1st through July 31st (2016-2017). There is a lot of excitement about some new possibilities! Pray and watch!
  • Our church has a 2016 operating budget that is balanced.
  • The number of people opening our weekly email has risen 7% in the last six months, which points to the increasing effectiveness of our communication strategies under the leadership of Tristan Mason.
  • Exciting proposals are coming from our architects about how to repair and re-form our building. The plans would provide coming generations with a facility that works for them as they serve the larger world. (Don’t miss the upcoming sessions sharing these “what ifs” with the congregation!)
  • A young mother, visiting our church on a Sunday morning, said, “I wish FUMC was closer to us! I love this place so much!”
  • A former choir member, from the early 1970’s, was in worship this month and told us, “I didn’t know what I was getting into when I came this morning! There is great spirit here and excitement. I could just feel it!”

And then there is this note…

Thank you

We receive thank you notes from people on a fairly regular basis. This week brought a handwritten note from the parents of an IU student who said this:

Dear Pastor,

We want to thank you for all the support you and First have given our daughter. She has enjoyed working with the children and Jubilee during her time in Bloomington. She was able to find a home at FUMC right away on her arrival in Bloomington.

It has been a comfort to us to know that she had a “home away from home” with the Church. She has grown in her faith and conviction during her time with you. We know she will need and use that during her life journey.

Sincerely,

Kris and Melinda

So don’t miss the good news. Don’t let the people who make money or gain power by selling you a steady diet of doom, gloom and fear blind you to the good things happening in the world.

This doesn’t mean we close our eyes to the violence, injustice and fear in the world, but it means we see and hear the good.

It’s encouraging

When we let the good news register with us, we may discover it can be an antidote for despair. Letting the good news in can help keep us from becoming hopeless and cynical.

Paul, in Romans 1:12b, writes: “We can be encouraged by the faithfulness we find in each other, both your faithfulness and mine.”

The news isn’t all bad. In fact, it is often quite good. Don’t miss that, okay? Hear the good news, and join me in giving thanks!

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This Sunday we will celebrate baptisms at 8:45. We’ll also recognize graduating high school seniors at 10 a.m. (Sanctuary) and 11:15 (Open Door), and we’ll thank our amazing, dedicated, creative, faithful and loving Sunday school teaching teams!

 

As we rejoice in Pentecost Sunday this weekend, we will also begin our new series FOLLOW THE LEADER. During the coming four weeks we will explore how God continues to move, and what it means to be on the path of spiritual growth. Invite a friend to join you.

Grace and peace,

Mark,

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UMC General Conference news

One thousand UM delegates from around the world are meeting in Portland, Oregon for the once-every-four-years General Conference. This is the highest decision-making body for the 11-million member denomination.

Please be in prayer for the delegates. The UMC is a “big tent” faith community with a diverse collection of persons who share a common love for Jesus Christ, and are committed to serving God by serving others. To be diverse means we have brothers and sisters who see issues differently than we may see them.

If you want to get more information you can go to www.umc.org/topics/generalconference-2016. GC live streaming video is available at www.umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference-2016-live-video-stream-english.

A Building Vision

JOIN US AS WE SEE THE NEW THING GOD MAY DO IN THIS PLACE!

Late in 2014 our congregation voted to undertake a comprehensive building study and explore possible solutions to challenges presented by our current facility.

Late in 2015 we received a report on needed structural repairs (estimated cost between $2.8 and $3.5 million).

Now, we have the opportunity to see some exciting possibilities about the building and ways it can be a ministry asset to future generations.

Join us in the Great Hall on Sunday, June 12th at 10:30 a.m. or Wednesday, June 15th at 7:00 p.m. for a report (with virtual fly-through tour of some elements of the possible redesigned building) by architects Kevin Stuckwisch & Mary Krupinski.

We encourage you to come and join the conversation!

 

First Methodist