We United Methodists can’t get enough of “Christian conferencing.” Wesley believed in it so much that he called it a means of grace—the Holy Spirit himself pours out his grace in a special way when a group of us Methodists gather together in the name of Christ.
And you know what? I mostly love it, too.
I bring it up because I’m in Athens, Georgia, this week for our North Georgia Annual Conference. One highlight is worship—more specifically, the opportunity to worship and not be in charge. I remember how much I miss that when I come to Annual Conference.
I think I’m a pretty good preacher, but what a joy to hear great preaching! Yesterday, we heard great preaching from Dr. Eddie Fox, an evangelist with the World Methodist Council who has probably traveled more miles preaching the gospel than any other living United Methodist. He preached at last night’s ordination service, reminding the newly ordained, commissioned, and licensed clergy—and the rest of us—to fight the good fight and not lose heart as we go about the ministry of sharing the gospel with the world.
He reminded me that the gospel is good enough. Ugh… That’s a terrible understatement. Far from merely being good enough, the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who has faith. When I preach, I worry so much about being clever, funny, and insightful. I want to entertain. I want to make people laugh (or even cry). I want to inspire.
And all that’s well and good. But you know what? I’m not going to say or do anything that improves upon the gospel. If I faithfully preach the gospel, I’ll do just fine. Not that I haven’t had this insight before, but it’s good to be reminded of it from time to time.
As I do every year, I ran the United Methodist 5K. I wasn’t quite as fast as last year—I was within 10 seconds of last year’s time. But not bad. This is me at the finish line, gasping for breath.