By Dr. Bascom Ratliff
Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches
I seem to be having more animated discussions these days about my writings and messages to the church. Today’s message is about being a godly church. I have gotten mixed feedback, especially in regard to the roles of men and women in the church. The good news is that people are reading and responding to my messages. If there is any bad news, it’s that people I have talked with seem to have very strong opinions about the roles of men and women in serving God.
First, a reminder to my readers that I am a committed Christian who believe that God calls all of us, regardless of gender, race, or sexual affiliation, to serve him and his people. I disagree with those churches and religious groups that say only men can preach, teach, or lead. I know a number of women, from different ethnic and racial groups, that are great leaders and preachers in the church. And I’m happy to say that the Methodist Church has taken the lead in providing opportunities for women to lead Methodist congregations and institutions.
I take great offense when I hear others suggest that God’s church works best under white male leadership. I have difficulty when others suggest that women are the weaker sex and are subject to male protection and control. However, I have to concede that in a democracy that touts religious freedom, religious groups that deny power and leadership to women and non-white Christians have a constitutional right to do so with their congregations.
Although I am offended by these exclusionary and limited practices, I am wise enough to reason that these churches are bringing others into the greater church of God. And, for that I am grateful.
I continue to grieve the decision of so many Methodist churches to leave the denomination because of LGBTQ+ issues. I continued to grieve the exclusion of women and racial minorities from leadership roles in the church. But, I continue to pray and believe in a loving God who is committed to a caring and full partnership with all of us.
The question remains, what is a Godly Church? I suppose that fundamentally I believe a Godly church is first, and foremost, committed to a loving and consistent worship of God. The church is committed to fellowship, study, and worship. The church is generous, fruitful, and merciful. Scripture provides the guidance and is the anchor of our faith and service. Jesus Christ is our leader. And, in all things the church strives to do good and to serve others.
If you want to hear more about God’s wonderful promise of unfailing love and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, come visit us at the Parker, Kansas United Methodist Church on September 25, 2022. We will be worshiping at the Beagle UMC in October and the Fontana UMC in November. All services are at 10 a.m. We’ll be sure to give you a warm welcome, a hot cup of coffee, and the best seats in the house. In keeping with Matthew 25, we will also provide you a box of food.