The United Methodist Church values diversity and celebrates each person’s contribution to the common good. We’re certainly not perfect, but we striving for it! I have heard of too many churches where the opposite is true. The wounded are shot and people major on the minuses. These churches have failed to be Fishers of People, as Christ has called us, and have instead become keepers of an ever-shrinking aquarium.
Take the Columbia District and its laity and clergy. As your District Superintendent I am glad to tell you how wonderful you are. In a state where unemployment in some regions has topped 20%, we’ve been blessed by a semi-stable local economy, and we know that we have been blessed to be a blessing to others. As a Connectional church we pool our resources for the common good of the Kingdom. As of this writing the Columbia District giving to Connectional causes is nearly 97%! Your faithfulness is helping those who aren’t as able to help themselves right now. I thank you!
I hope, without thinking me insane, that you’ll agree that our District is thriving because you have mastered the art of emulating geese. Next fall watch the geese heading south for the winter and you’ll understand. Watch their “V” formation. It’s a wonder of nature that we can all benefit from. Science has discovered why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. No wonder then that Christians who share a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier. Shared thrust will make a church really “fly!”
Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation, to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. If church members have as much sense as a goose we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way that we are going. When the lead goose gets tired, the goose rotates back in the “V” and another goose flies point. It pays to take turns doing hard jobs – with people at church or with geese flying south.
The geese near the rear honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. We all know how much an encouraging word helps us when we’re tired. When a goose gets sick, or is wounded by a shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow the lame goose down to help and protect him or her. They stay with the hurt goose until he or she is either able to fly, or until the goose’s death, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their original group. Maybe if people knew that we would stand by them like that in the church, they would push down the church walls to get in.
You see, all we have to do in order to keep attracting those who are missing to the church is to demonstrate to the world that we have as much sense as geese. That seems little enough price to pay to bring people to Christ and minister to one another. Even geese know that it works every time. Goose-life and United Methodism’s Connectionalism go hand in hand, and I celebrate it. Let’s keep up the good work. Let good honking abound!