By Dr. Bascom Ratliff
Pastor, Parker/Beagle/Fontana United Methodist Churches
Last week I attended a brief program about “thinking outside the box” and being more creative in worship. The instructor was excellent and remarked that churches could benefit a great deal by following the example of Jesus. She suggested that preachers and speakers should consider doing their sermons and presentations where people live, work, and gather.
Having church services outdoors, in non-church buildings, and other nontraditional settings might be a better way of getting the message out that God’s love and grace are available to all. She also suggested that providing some basic refreshments is always a good addition to the word of God.
I am beginning to think that confining ourselves to a single building for worship is self-limiting. This has led to a deeper appreciation of our commitment to worship in churches in the Parker, Beagle, and Fontana communities. We also have a renewed interest and commitment to serving our communities by identifying needs and providing services that satisfy the requirements of Matthew 25.
Our God is the God of both large and small things. Unfortunately, sometimes I am too comfortable confining God to a building (church), or to a box (my personal beliefs). This prevents me from leaving my self-imposed comfort zone to better do the work of Christ. But leave we must. Doing God’s work means we must follow Christ’s “great commission” and meet our neighbors where they live and gather.
In practical terms, this means that we identify the needs of our neighbors and work diligently to meet those needs. No one in our community should go hungry. Everyone should have a warm coat and a good pair of shoes. No one should live in isolation. And everyone should be assured that God loves them. We have neglected our neighbors far too long. Now is the time to do the will of God by serving our church, neighbors, and communities.
Serving our communities requires a commitment to hard work. It means unashamedly following Christ. It means eliminating our apologies and excuses. And it means living and thinking outside the proverbial box. The good news (and there is good news) is that God has promised us the gifts and resources required for doing his will. Knowing that the most powerful being in the universe is leading us is a cause for celebration. God has promised his help. God is with us. The harvest is plentiful. It is time to do the work of the Lord.
If you want to hear more about exceeding useless and confining limits and enjoy a great morning of music and worship, come visit us at the Beagle, Kansas United Methodist Church on October 30, 2022, at 10 a.m. After the service we’ll treat you to a great lunch. You will find that we a Christ-centered church that values our neighbors and preaches the truth. I promise you will leave well-fed with God’s grace and Larry’s world famous catfish.