All posts by pastorndecker

I give what I have received. Please use all worship resources on this site at no cost. I only ask that you give credit to where they have come from by adding the following line: (CC) Nathan Decker, Worship's Wake

What Happens when a Church Splits

What Happens when a Church Splits

by Nathan Decker

“The history of the Church of Rome is a constant leakage of members into such breakaway cults,

which go on splitting.”  Mary Douglas

 

I’ve been here before.  I watched while I was in college as the Southern Baptist Church split and fractured into an alphabet soup of CBF, SBC, Alliance and all sorts of brands.  Dying and grief are processes.  There is a process the United Methodist Church is entering which feels all too familiar, as if someone has started music we have to dance to, even though we don’t like the steps it is making us take.

At first there is an attempt at reconciling the differing views (and yes, I get the irony of my use of that word).  When this fails, we begin making each other out to be the enemy.  Like children on a playground sorting who is on who’s side, we grieve the loss of longtime friends to the other side and question each other about our motives, faithfulness, and views.  Tragically, this has already started with the statements by people about the Wesleyan Covenant Association and the Reconciling Movement.  This is messy because there is something about being human that wants it to be a simple left or right, yet we are complex.  There is a lot of space between on the spectrum of any question.

There is only so much energy and institutional loyalty and patience.  When the side who has the votes refuses again and again to compromise for the good of unity, eventually the minority recognizes that they are not only unwelcomed but also are being systematically disenfranchised.  It starts small, a position here and there.  Then because those in power need to know who is faithful, they will create a creedal litmus test like the Baptist Faith and Message which all must take an oath to uphold and follow.  For us in the United Methodist Church, we already have this in the oath all clergy take regarding the Book of Discipline.  The General Conference created accountability with teeth and a spirit of division instead an accountability of love and grace.  There was no interest in compromise.

Unless God intervenes to stop the music we keep playing, the next step in our dance will be a split.  Try as we might to be dignified and respectful, this step is painful for all involved.  There will be a fight about who is the ‘historic United Methodists’ who represent the core values of the denomination.  Progressives/Centrists will accuse Traditionalists of stealing their church from them while Traditionalists will accuse Progressives/Centrists of watering down the Gospel to be more like the culture.

Those who stay in the denomination will find they suddenly have power to finally ‘fix’ the church, and they will shoot themselves in the foot trying to keep their coalition together once the so called enemy they named is no longer with them.  They will have the option to step aside and let new leadership rise from within the ranks, or they will try to find a new enemy to keep their shrinking gathering together.  The most difficult problem will be that infused in the DNA of the church now is a strong belief of ‘Us vs. Them.”  The church will always see the world as the enemy who must be conquered.

Those who leave to create a new denomination will have an even harder task.  There will be an old guard who want to create what they just left with only the one change to be inclusive.  But they will have to face a growling beast of differing opinions who want to create something brand new.  There will be so many suggested changes to structure and the way we do missions; it will be messy.  Some will assume because of past position and prestige they will be the leaders of this new group, but they will find others see opportunity or feel called to do so as well.  The saddest part of any church splitting is the expense of energy in division instead of the pursuit of multiplying and being fruitful.

My hope is not in the United Methodist Church.  My hope is not in institutions, interpretations, or in being right at the expense of relationships.  My hope is in the Savior who taught us that in order to experience resurrection, we first have to die.  We have to die to self.  We have let our egos, our agendas, and our belief that we know the right answers and right paths die.  We have to die so that we can experience resurrection in Jesus.  In many ways, the church that ordained me as an Elder has died.  Like all deaths, this death has brought me great grief.  But I wait, as Christ waited in the tomb three days.  I wait for Easter.  I wait for resurrection.   After all, it is what Jesus would do.

 

No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.

– Jesus in John 15:13

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Worship for First Sunday of Lent 2019 “Temptation”

Call to Worship by Nathan Decker

God, we hunger for a word of guidance from you.

The desert winds have dried up our springs of hope.

The stones look like bread, and we throw them at the needy in our disillusion.

Our leap of faith suddenly feels like a fall from grace.

We have worshiped power.

We have failed to love one another.

We have failed to hear one another.

We have failed you.

But you Christ faced these temptations.

You refuted the twisting of scriptures.

You denied trusting in false hope.

You stood firm against the easy road.

Oh, God forgive us

and lead us to the love of Christ on the Cross.

 

Morning Prayer by Nathan Decker

Christ who came as God in the flesh

and faced down the temptations:

                Lead us to the true bread of love so that all are fed.

                Lead us to leap in our love of God and Neighbor so that all are welcome.

                Lead us to fall down and worship you instead of power.

For you gave up the power of heaven,

For you were unwelcome among us on earth,

For you were hungry and left to die.

Christ who came as God in the flesh

help us face down the temptations you have conquered.  Amen.

(C)2019, Nathan Decker, http://www.worshipswake.wordpress.com

God the Baker

Great Baker,
Mix in our hearts the ingredients of your holiness.
Stir in us love, joy, peace, and mercy.
Sprinkle intentional faith that seeks to grow.
Add a dash of courage and the zest of passionate worship.
Fold into our innermost being your presence.
Help us rest so that we may rise.
Preheat the fire of Pentecost’s excitement,
and cook us with the warm grace of Christ.  Amen.

Thanksgiving Table Prayer

Thanksgiving Table Prayer
God of Abundance,
As we gather around this table,
We remember
   that this table is connected to your table,
   the one where you broke bread and gave it to your disciples.
We remember
   that all we have been given is a gift from you,
   a gift we are called to share.
We remember
   that Thanksgiving for us is not just a day
   but a way of living our lives in constant prayer to you.
We remember and give thanks today.
<Everyone around the table shares for what they are thankful>
We remember and give thanks today,
through Jesus who gave himself for each of us.  Amen.
(C)2018 Nathan Decker, worshipswake.wordpress.com

Call to Worship Psalm 100

—-Call to Worship adapted from Psalm 100—-
On your feet now, let’s give God a round of applause!
<Congregation Claps>
Bring God your joy.
Let God know you appreciate his presence.
Hear our Songs!
We love you GOD!
Know this:  God is God.
God made us, we didn’t make him.
We’re God’s people.  We the Shepherd’s sheep.
There is only one way to enter into God’s presence:
We come with a Spirit of Thanksgiving.
Thank you God!  Make your home inside our giving thanks!
Worship God.
For God is sheer beauty,
an overwhelming generosity of love,
faithful forever and ever.
(C) 2018 Nathan Decker, worshipswake.wordpress.com

Welcome Home – Call To Worship for Homecoming Sunday

Welcome Home

Home is not a building or a place we meet.

Home is not just where we came from.

Home is more than people and memories.

Home is more than sentimentality or traditions.

Home is toys on the floor.

Home is a mess in the kitchen.

Home is a welcome at the door.

Home is a hug of acceptance.

Home is the laughter around the table, bread and cup.

Home is remembering promises made in water and spirit.

Home is seeing where God is leading us

And going there together.

Welcome home to High Street UMC

where we welcome children, care for each other, and learn how to love.

Welcome Home.

Where we are better together.  Amen.

(C)2018 Nathan Decker,

Prayer for Pledge Sunday

Working, Saving, and Giving Lord,
You have called us 
   to be your disciples
   to go into the world proclaiming your good news
   and to care for lost, the least, and the left out.
Today, we are setting aside time for promises about our work, our savings, and our giving.
Whisper wisdom as we hold out our hands in hope, discern our part in your Kingdom work, and trust in you who gave all, Amen.

Prayer for Labor Day 2018

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer:
Six days you labored to birth the cosmos,
Thirty years you walked this Earth showing us compassion and salvation,
Day after day you breathe upon us as Spirit,
and then you rest, and then you rise, and then you pause.
Today, we take a break from our labors and celebrate the work we been given.
Thank you for work and pay.
Thank you for planting and harvesting.
Thank you for purpose and meaning.
Bless our sweat, our stress, and our success.
Bless our rest, our pause, our Sabbath.
In the Name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, Amen.
(C) 2018 Nathan Decker, worshipswake.wordpress.com

Ten Commandments Confession

Forgive us, Lord, too often we have broken your commandments:

Our priorities begin everywhere but with you,

Placing of faith in idols and self,

Using your name carelessly for power and gain,

We have not followed your example and had a day of rest.

We dishonor our parents,

We treat other people as less than human, murdering your image in them.

We lust.  We steal.  We lie. 

Our hunger is unsatisfied as we crave earthly things.

Forgive us, Lord, too often we have broken your commandments.

 

Hear the Good News,

Just as God gave his only Son to save us,

God gave us these commandments to guide us as a community.

The compassion of God is overwhelming our sin.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

Hallelujah!  Amen.

 

(C)2018, Nathan Decker, worshipswake.wordpress.com