With the threat of a blizzard all around us, approximately 60 clergy from across the United Methodist Church gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual Young Clergy Leadership Forum through the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS). I am among the assembled group seeking to learn more about GBCS and how the church can engage our various communities.
Thus far, the forum has provided an interesting perspective on the challenges that the church faces to be the church in various contexts. We heard from a district superintendent in Switzerland who was in Washington for meetings and four representatives from Africa. Each spoke about the various challenges that are present in sharing the Gospel in Europe and Africa, which range from government restrictions to cultural issues.
I appreciated hearing from these leaders. We need the reminder that we are a global church and that we are all in this together. What happens in Africa and Europe impacts us in the United States, because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. I also felt challenged by their discussion. None of the presenters saw their difficulties as problems that could not be overcome. They found ways to work through them to share the Gospel.
I wonder if, in the United States, we focus too much on our challenges and difficulties and not enough about how to work through them. It seems that we spend all of our time on problems and not solutions. How much more productive and fruitful would our churches be if we focused more on working through problems than on the problems themselves?
Finally, I truly enjoyed hearing from former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry. He provided an interesting take on church communication and how to be effective in our messaging. McCurry, who is a professor at Wesley Theological Seminary, has a deep passion for the church that was apparent when he talked about the need for the church to talk about the Gospel throughout the week.
An exciting and overwhelming day to get us started and I’m looking forward to more of the same tomorrow. That is, of course, if we do not get snowed in.