Editorial: What’s Most Important?

Rob Renfroe

Rob Renfroe

By Rob Renfroe –

Summers in Houston can be brutal. It is hard to imagine what life was like before air conditioning in this part of Texas. That is one of the reasons I spent such a wonderful week last month in Michigan. The temperature was in the low 50s in the mornings and the “highs” in the afternoon didn’t reach much more than 75. No humidity. It felt great. Knowing that the heat index back home was about 107 only made me appreciate it more.
I could have been carrying sacks of concrete all day and it still would have been a terrific week. But I was there to teach and preach in a beautiful, wooden pavilion at the Simpson Park Camp meeting. That made my time there even better.

Simpson Park has been the home of Methodist camp meetings for 148 years. Some of the children who were there were the fifth generation of their family to attend the camp. Needless to say, I was honored to be part of such a magnificent tradition and humbled to stand in the same pulpit where so many great preachers and men of God had stood before me.
I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the adults. In the teaching sessions I shared a series with them that is dear to my heart titled “The Trouble with the Truth.” And they were very receptive to my ideas about why our culture and many in the church are so antagonistic to the truth that God has revealed.

But the highlight of the week was the evening when I issued a challenge for those present to commit to living a big life — a life that will glorify God by bringing grace and truth into a world that is dark and lost. I told them that standing for truth in a world of lies will make their lives hard. Do it, I said, and you’ll be misunderstood and maligned. And some will turn their backs on you. But we follow a Savior who said “the truth will set you free.” We follow a Savior who was willing to be crucified rather than be untrue to his Father. We follow the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who roared so strongly with his words and his life that this world has never been the same. And his Spirit lives in us. If you’re willing to follow him, speak the truth into a dark world, and with love in your heart commit yourself to a ministry and a mission, come forward.

And they did. Young people. Teenagers. Boys and girls rushed to the altar and fell on their knees. I knelt before them, placed my hands on their heads and prayed that they would fulfill God’s calling on their lives and do all that God had put into their hearts.

The week reminded me of something that’s easy to forget. When you’re fighting a fallen culture and when you’re constantly struggling against those in the church who would sell their birthright for a mess of porridge, you can forget what’s most important.

And what’s most important takes place at altars like the one in Simpson Park. What’s most important is young people coming to real faith in Christ. What’s most important is the next generation embracing God’s call on their lives. What’s most important is teenagers hearing the voice of God, calling them to live a different way for a higher purpose. What’s most important is you and I passing the baton of truth to those who will carry it when we are gone and who will roar with the power of the Gospel when we are no longer here.

Friends, there is hope. The Gospel is still the power of God that speaks deeply into the hearts of men and women and boys and girls. There is hope. God is not finished with The United Methodist Church. There is hope. God is still calling young people to count the cost, stand strong, and give their hearts to the cause of Christ.

I wish you had had a week like mine recently. You wouldn’t be discouraged. You wouldn’t believe the battle is lost. You would believe that a living and powerful God has not given up on The United Methodist Church. And you would be encouraged to continue the fight, knowing that the victory is the Lord’s.

There’s still much to do. And our battle for the soul of the UM Church will not be easy. But it is worth fighting for because the UM Church is not the bishops and the bureaucrats. Those young people who came to the altar in Simpson Park with tears in their eyes, begging God to use them in a mighty way, asking me to lay my hands on them and pray for them — they are The United Methodist Church. And the parents, pastors, and Sunday school teachers who love them and have been praying for them — they’re The United Methodist Church. And if I know anything, I know they are worth fighting for.

Take this opportunity to pray for young people in the over 30,000 UM churches. Pray that someone will tell them the truth. Pray that they will give their hearts to Christ and his Kingdom. And pray that Good News will lead all United Methodists to a faithful future.

Rob Renfroe is the president and publisher of Good News.

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