I have come to believe that our attitudes have a great effect on what we can accomplish. And I believe that is as true in the church as it is anywhere else. John Wesley is credited with say, “Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” People can sense the attitude of an individual by body language, verbal, and visual cues. Ideas expressed with enthusiasm are taken more seriously, noticed by more people, and enthusiasm is contagious. Conversely negative attitudes also bread negativism.
I’ve been a part of a lot of different congregations of Christians in my life. I’ve served in churches with a positive “can do” attitude. And it is amazing to watch what they accomplish and how their enthusiasm spreads and grows! I’ve also known church who had great resources and wonderful opportunities who could see nothing but black clouds no matter how many silver linings were present.
Right now I am excited that I am again a part of a congregation at First United Methodist that shares and has enthusiasm for its ministry in its community. First Church is seeking to build, to grow, to change, and to reach out. And that is being done with seriousness and forethought but also with great wonder and enthusiasm for what God has for us in the future.
Emil Brunner say that “The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.” Every time we share the love of Jesus with another person, every time we help a needy person in our community, every time we sing praises to his name, every time we plan and work for God’s future we help the fire of God’s spirit burn a little brighter in our lives and in our church.
Now I can almost hear someone saying, “Now Tim be a realist, churches really can’t…..” “My church doesn’t have the resources to….” Yes it is true that we all have different abilities and resources. But it is also true that we can accomplish so much more than we are ever willing to risk. We want to appear be “realists.” We want to hedge our bets. But that isn’t what Christ calls us to. He doesn’t want us to hold anything back. He wants idealistic dreamers who are willing to give it all for the sake of God’s Holy Name. Christ is looking for people who believe that God can accomplish even more than we ask.
The truth is that our view of reality is meager, small, miserly, and empty. But God’s reality is expansive, powerful, enthusiastic, growing, changing, and challenging. And I’ll take God’s reality over mine any time!
May God grant us the wisdom, the strength, and the boldness to catch fire with godly enthusiasm!