Photo by Korney Violin on Unsplash
By Gary E. Mueller
Bishop of the Arkansas Annual Conference
It seems to me that we Christians are engaging in more and more conversations about the future that leave us feeling stuck, frustrated and hopeless. The result? All too often we end up cynical at best or polarized at worst. Which is exactly why it’s time to do something we should have been doing all along – invite God to change our conversations.
When we think that the only way we can solve “the problem” in our beloved United Methodist Church is to adopt some plan at General Conference, we descend into chaos and despair. But when we invite God to change our conversation about our church, then we begin to ask a new question that can change the trajectory of our future, “What does the General Conference have to do to ensure there are as many faithful and vital congregations as possible making disciples of Jesus Christ?”
When we are convinced that the United Methodist Church is going to continue to decline, we give up and just go through the motions. But when we invite God to change our conversation and focus on how prayer changes things, then we begin fervently praying for a Great Awakening that always brings Jesus into the lives of people both in the church and the mission field all around us.
When we think we’re always going to struggle to reach younger people, we’re embracing a self-fulfilling prophecy that ensures we are always going to fail to reach younger people. But when we invite God to change our conversation so that we are talking about how God is giving us the gifts we need to reach young people, then we are propelled into the lives of those who are longing for the opportunity to grow in deeper discipleship.
When we invite God to change our conversations, we change the way we look at things. When we change the way we look at things, we change the conversations we have. And when we change our conversations, we experience God doing the most amazing things in our lives and the lives of those around us!