What if?

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

By Bishop Gary Mueller

I’ve read all the reports about the decline of the church. Like you, I’ve done my fair share of gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. But even more than that, I’ve experienced the deep pain of seeing little impact from all my best efforts to change the church.

I cannot face this reality and not engage in deep soul-searching and prayer. And what has begun to emerge from this is not a new set of “quick fixes” or “latest and greatest ideas.” Rather, it’s a series of questions. Interestingly, they all begin with “What if” and, perhaps even more interestingly, they focus on what we Christians can do individually and together starting right now.

Some of these “what ifs” are based on observations; others on long-held notions; and still others are the result of a blast of recent “God Prods” that have caused me to look at things in a brand new way.

So I share them with you, imperfectly posed as they are. And I invite you to reflect on them, talk with others about them and compose your own “What if” questions.

  • What if we stopped referring to ourselves as “the church” and instead called ourselves the Body of Christ?
  • What if we stopped treating hot-button issues like partisan politics and began treating those with whom we disagree as if they were Christ?
  • What if we spent a lot less time worrying about what we are getting out of church and began focusing more on how Christ can use us in his mission in the world?
  • What if we refrained from working so hard to get others to agree with us about theology, worship style and what a “Christian” worldview is and simply listened a lot more?
  • What if we were less passionate about football games and more passionate about living as disciples of Jesus Christ?
  • What if we realized that church is not just another activity in our busy lives, but a place where we are transformed so we can join Jesus Christ in transforming the world?
  • What if we really got serious about making Jesus the main thing?
  • What if we started treating others the same way Jesus treats us?
  • What if we realized “those people” we don’t like, completely disagree with and want nothing to do with are people for whom Jesus died?

Perhaps we need to spend a lot less time on answers, considerably more time on questions and even still more time on listening to God as we think about these soulful matters.

I know I do.

Grace and Peace,

Gary E. Mueller