Photo Courtesy of CuriousPresbyterian.com
I finished my last paper for the Theology of Ministry class I took in August - got an "A". Let me brag, won't you? I didn't get many of those as a younger student - and I wanted to read something different than the books on sanctification I had been reading. So, I decided to reread World War Z which is a pretty awesome book. Read it.
Since I have the Kindle version and this was a reread, I noticed that I highlighted two passages in this fictional account of the worldwide war for humanity's survival against the zombies. One of them really caught my attention. In constructing a plan to avoid human eradication, a South African named Redeker devised a plan that worked even though it was incredibly distasteful in that it left many people to die. Redeker said, "'The first casualty of the conflict must be our own sentimentality' was the closing statement for his proposal, 'for its survival will mean our destruction.'"
I think this is part of our problem as a denomination. Our sentimentality is one of the factors leading us to further decline. We want to hold on to the glory days of the baby boom, the way worship and ministry used to be, thinking that if we tweak all of that just a tad then all will be well. But it won’t. As we say in the South, that’s merely putting lipstick on a pig - it’s still a pig.
Are we willing to let our sentimentality be the first casualty in our effort to fulfill the Great Commission? I hope so, for the Great Commission is the only thing worth following. We’ve got to identify those sentimental patterns, structures, ministries, and programs that compete with our mission and let them die otherwise our denomination is doomed to resemble the Walking Dead rather than the resurrection.
The Rev. Matthew Johnson is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Prairie, Grove, AR.