Rebuilding the Church

The church needed to change. As precious as the church is and as much good as it has done, it needed a course correction. As destructive as the pandemic has been, it also tore down some things that needed to be torn down and gave us an opportunity to rebuild things better. We have an opportunity in this season to move away from complacency and superficiality as the church and rebuild our faith-life in a way that brings out our deep spiritual desires and ushers us into authentic, substantive experiences of God. People have reevaluated pretty much everything in their lives, and many people have decided that “going to church” is not for them. What that tells me is that the expression of the church we’ve been living with, when it really gets down to it, is not meeting many people’s spiritual needs. But we know God is real. We know everyone needs God. We know Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. So where did we go wrong as the church? I believe we offered people an expression of the church that was comfortable and convenient and easy but that was not necessarily sourced from Jesus Christ, his way, his presence, his power, his word. I am excited to explore what it means to truly be the church of Jesus in this season of rebuilding. I am looking forward to partnering with you to learn how to be the church again, to rebuild what has been destroyed, so that the church is even more beautiful and reflective of Jesus than ever.

Reflections on Annual Conference 2022

Reflections on Annual Conference 2022

It is always a sad and sobering portion of Annual Conference when the vote comes up to discontinue churches. This year, the Annual Conference voted to close El Monte First United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church of Huntington Beach, otherwise known as Surf City United Methodist Church.

El Monte First UMC had been in decline for the past fifty years. Eventually, the congregation was less than twenty people worshiping in a sanctuary built for three-hundred. They decided to discontinue as a ministry and the Annual Conference confirmed this by vote in a plenary session.

Surf City UMC did not want to decline or close. They wanted to find ways to be a vital congregation. However, they did not have a clear sense of purpose beyond survival, and without a sense of purpose bigger than itself, a church cannot, and perhaps should not, continue.

We will probably see more and more churches be discontinued over the next few years. But the hope is that as some churches close, others will receive assets and resources that are freed up in order to continue to grow in vital ministry. We are in a season of continuing transition. The churches that will survive and thrive are those that have a clear sense of purpose bigger than themselves.

In other news, we have elected three candidates for consideration as part of a new class of bishops in our denomination. They are the Revs. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth, Sandra Olewine, and Dr. Tom Choi. Many of you may know Pastor Tom as one of the previous pastors of this congregation when it was Los Angeles KUMC and Ascension Ministry. Please pray that the voting bodies will have God’s discernment in electing our new bishops.

I will continue to be at Annual Conference in Costa Mesa. It is different this year as it is a hybrid online and in-person event. Many people will be completely online while others will be in-person and online. It is reflective of a new-normal for society as this is how many of us in this country are doing pretty much everything, whether it is work or play or shopping.

May God guide his church to continue to adapt and change as society changes, while remaining faithful to the unchanging truths of his word.

This upcoming Sunday, June 5

It’s Pentecost Sunday, a day where we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church. We are praying that God’s power and presence would be filling the worship time and that each person that comes will experience God in a living way. We will have a special testimony as well that we believe will be a blessing to you. We will celebrate Holy Communion together so be sure to come in person if you are able, share in the fellowship of God with his people through the Holy Spirit.