I am not conservative, or liberal, I am a moderate. Being a moderate in the United States is difficult enough when the government operates only in binaries, but it is even more difficult in the United Methodist Church. Sometimes it feels as if the entire Church is battling every other member for power and control, instead of working for the Church, it seems that the members of the body are all working to be the head. In the struggle for power the Church has lost its original purpose, servanthood.
The Church was called to serve the the Lord and the world around it, not fight with itself over who will rule, the leader of the Church was determined when it was started, Christ is the head (Ephesians 5:23), then why are we as the body trying to supplant the head? I have seen such behavior before, coup d'etats occur all the time in history, but the one place where they should never occur is within the Church, nevertheless they do. The Roman Catholic church had multiple popes battling for power, the Southern Baptist Church and the takeover by the conservatives, the list goes on.
I find myself asking over and over again: Why should I stay in this Church that does not listen when I speak, or care how its policies affect me? And the answer comes to me everytime like a gentle voice, the reason to stay is not to be heard, but to serve. Service does not mean stop speaking or trying to change how the church operates, but it does mean that fighting for power is no longer necessary. It means putting more effort in trusting God than in trusting in the system. The system is a means to an end, not the goal. The goal is serving God and the world, the Church and its structure is only a means to meet that goal. At the same time, it is more than just a means to an end.
Why do I stay with with Church? Because the Church is my family. Just like my family it is loud, rude, messy, out of control, and full of love. My family shares the trait of racism, homophobia, and distrust of the “other” with the Church, but it also shares, faith in Christ, love, compassion, generosity, and so many other desirable traits with the Church. every group of people out to do what is right, makes mistakes and stumbles. Some of those mistakes last for decades, but without voices and servants to remind the Church how to do good and walk humbly with God, the wrongs would never be righted. I plan on staying in the UMC because I want it to be said of me that when hard times came I did not give up, but I continued to be the voice of one crying in the midst of the wilderness, serving the Lord and doing His work, serving His Church and the world around me. As a moderate, I may be outnumbered, I may be ignored, but I will continue to be faithful.