Recent rain and warming temperatures have brought increased growth in nature – the grass is greening, the trees are budding and life is returning. It seems that the change of seasons, leads me to reflect on the life of the church.
Recently I remembered something that I experience almost every year. When it is in the middle of winter or summer, I can have a hard time remembering / imagining what it looks like in the other seasons. In the winter, I find it hard to imagine what it will look like with the trees with full leaves, green grass and flowers blooming. Likewise, in the middle of the summer, I find it hard to imagine bare tree branches, brown grass and a lack of color. I think that this is partially a result of existing in a particular season. For example, I have seen the trees without leaves for so long I can’t quite bring myself to have a vivid picture of what it will look like.
I think that this is similar to what is being experienced in the Kansas East and Kansas West conferences of the United Methodist Church. There has been a particular season for a long time – slow decline in members and worship attendance, aging clergy – and it may be hard to imagine what vital congregations may look like. What will Kansas look like when the UMC and other congregations and denominations are vital and growing?
I think that the vision and strategic plans put forward by Bishop Jones are helping to stir the imagination of United Methodists in Kansas. I hope to be a part of God’s dream for Kansas and for the world.