Sermon at West Des Moines United Methodist Church on September 29, 2013 by Dr Wesley S.K. Daniel
Monday, September 30, 2013
As we kick off our Fall LifeGroups, our church-wide study is I Am a Church Member, I encourage you to find a group to connect with and study this little book. It's a quick read, it'll generate great conversation and there groups meeting different days of the week and different times to fit your schedule. (You can sign up here!) As we think about being a church member, we've asked some of our church members to share why they are church members. Today I want to share this thoughtful reflection from Jeff, a church member. Enjoy!
Pastor Jen Hibben
"What does it mean to be a church member? As we prepare for our sermon series and small group studies, I’d like to share a few thoughts about what church membership means to me. In the coming weeks I look forward to hearing more ideas about what church membership means to others in our congregation. I have much less experience as a member of WDM UMC than many of you. I started attending three years ago and became a member last summer with my then fiancée, Kim. That day last summer we made a commitment to this congregation. And for me, that commitment is the foundation of my church membership. We committed ourselves to supporting our church through our prayers, presence, gifts, and service. When you think about it, that is a pretty big commitment. However, it didn’t take long to realize that these were much more than commitments, these were tremendous blessings and important opportunities to grow in so many aspects of our life. Prayer – Kim and I pray regularly for our congregation. We pray that God would bless our pastors and other church leaders with the strength and wisdom they need to guide our congregation. We pray for the youth and Sunday school children that we teach; that they would continue to grow into true disciples of Christ. We pray for the health and life of our fellow church members. And we pray that our ministries would be successful in sharing the good news of Christ Jesus’ love and sacrifice beyond the walls of the sanctuary. While this is a big commitment, it is a true blessing. What a joy it is to have a caring God that is always there to hear our prayers. What a joy it is to know that other members of our congregation are united with me in praying for our church, and for me! Presence – I can count one hand the number of Sundays in the past year that we weren’t here in worship. There was just one Sunday when we were in town that we didn’t attend, and that was the morning after our wedding. And in our defense, we were blessed with a wonderful message from Dr. Daniel the night before; one I will never forget. This too is a big commitment. There are a lot of things we could be doing on Sunday morning, a lot of places we could be. But at the same time, what a blessing it is that God has called us worship at church. Every Sunday is a new opportunity to hear the word of God, to praise our sacrificing and forgiving lord, and to be united in Christian fellowship. Gifts – The most tangible commitment we made was to support the church financially. We are called to give the first 10% of our income back to God; and to do it joyfully. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it was a big decision when we began tithing. It was a little less joyful and a little more hesitant than God’s calling. But it didn’t take long to realize that this was absolute best way to use the funds God blesses us with. We know that our financial gifts are supporting important ministries within our church and throughout the world. Service – Finally, we committed ourselves to service. For me this commitment has led me to amazing opportunities, a very wide range of opportunities in fact. -Through small groups, I gained a new family when my closest family member was hundreds of miles away. -Through teaching Sunday school and serving as a youth leader, I received hours of laughs and the priceless lessons of what is truly important in life. -Through serving as a member of the finance committee, I was able to share my knowledge and experience as a CPA. -Through participating in our church softball and volleyball teams, I have shared in in important fellowship with other members of our congregation and others outside of our church. So… What does it mean to be a church member? For me the foundation of church membership is the commitment to share my prayers, presence, gifts, and service within our congregation. But that is just the beginning, and these commitments have led me to truly amazing blessings, and I know that will continue in our congregation for a long time! So, what does church membership mean to you? I challenge you to think about it and to pray about it. And I strongly encourage you to join a small group in which you can both share your thoughts and ideas and learn more about what it means to be a church member."
Jeff Butler, WDMUMC member