A Call to Consecration
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Josh 3:5)
What is “consecration”? It means “making holy”—set apart from small or selfish ambitions, to become a person that God can use to make a real difference in the world. One major emphasis of Methodism is that we don’t stand still in our spiritual life: we’re called to press on and grow, becoming more like Christ until the day we join him in heaven. The process of growth is both a work of God, and a work of humanity. God, through his Spirit, gives us power to overcome sin and walk in ways worthy of the faith we profess. But we must respond to God’s Spirit, accepting the power he gives us to become the people we should be.
Consecration Sunday (November 20, 2016) calls us to take another step in our growth as Christian disciples. When we become members of the United Methodist Church, we vow to serve God with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. These vows are really at the heart of Christian discipleship, and those who sincerely strive to fulfill their vows will also grow in consecration. They’ll also help the church to fulfill its mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world. Remember, the church is not a club; it’s a team. None of our members are spectators on the sidelines. We all have vital parts to play in fulfillment of our ministry in Caro, and in the world.
Please take a few minutes to read through these meditations about our church membership vows, and prayerfully consider how you might take a step forward in your walk with Christ. No one will be collecting this document—it’s between you and God.
Prayer is at the heart of all we do.
Prayer can be as simple as a child’s rhyme, or as profound as a theological dissertation. It can be a few words breathed in a moment of desperation, or a whole night spent wrestling with grief. We have different styles and goals in our prayers, but one thing is certain: we cannot be a growing Christian without an active commitment to prayer. It’s our essential lifeline to God.
The ministry of prayer is the structure that shapes and supports all that we do as a church. Will you commit yourself to pray daily for your church and its many ministries? Would you especially remember the pastor and the church board as they seek to lead us in our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world—beginning right here in Caro?
_____ Will you commit to pray daily for the ministries of Caro United Methodist Church?
_____ Will you commit to grow in prayer and spend more time in prayer than last year?
_____ Will you commit to read at least one book about prayer this year?
Daring to Draw Near: People in Prayer John White
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World Paul E. Miller
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God Timothy Keller
Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God Bill Hybels
Prayer Ole Hallesby
Worship attendance is a duty—but it should be a joyful one.
Church attendance isn’t just a social gathering. It isn’t entertainment, or a diversion from the week’s activities. Church attendance is a requirement for Christian discipleship, whenever we’re able to make it. Jesus attended synagogue services every day. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, required church members to attend worship every week, and dropped people from the membership rolls if they missed two Sundays a year!
Times have changed, but our need to worship has not. Worship is the best way to consecrate the Sabbath day and make it holy. It shapes our focus for the week. It is one of the major ways that we learn about our faith through song, sermon, and Sunday school. And it challenges us to strive to walk in ways that are worthy of our profession.
Your attendance at worship is also vital for our church’s continued growth: when our attendance is down, our services seem less enthusiastic and energized. Visitors will not feel interested in returning. It’s especially important for families with children to commit to church attendance, not only for their own kids, but for the sake of families who might visit our congregation. They probably won’t be back if they see few children in our church.
Do you want our church to grow? It starts with every member who is able committing to attend worship, and to do so with enthusiasm and expectancy.
______ Will you commit to being present in worship at least twice a month (health and work schedules permitting)?
______ Will you commit to attending worship services every week (barring illness, etc.)?
______ Will you commit to coming to services with an attitude of expectation?
Giving isn’t just about underwriting the church budget—our giving is a barometer of our relationship with God.
Jesus told us, “Where your money is, there your heart will be, also.”
If we invest heavily in Microsoft stock, we’re constantly preoccupied with how the company is faring. If we put all our spare dollars in lottery tickets, we’ll be frequently checking on the winning numbers. But if we give generously to the work of God, our hearts will be bound to God’s interests.
The Bible’s guideline for giving is the “tithe”—ten percent of our income should be given to the work of God and his Church. But tithing is just a guideline: the Bible’s REAL standard is that we should all get by with only what we need, and give away the rest to those in need (Luke 3:11). I hope some of us, at least, would aspire to that level of giving. But for most of us, the tithe is a good target for contributing to the work of the church.
Frankly, our denomination isn’t very generous. United Methodists typically give only 1.5-2% of their income to the work of God. Other Evangelical denominations give a little more, typically averaging about 4%. We can do better! It might take some discipline and sacrifice on our part to reach goal of giving a tithe—but then, that’s why we’re called “disciples.”
Remember, your giving not only helps our church keep the lights on and the doors open—it is also vital if we’re to fulfill our mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our gifts bring the Good News of Christ to people living in darkness, loneliness, and desperation in our community, and around the world. They feed the hungry in Caro and around the world. They help children learn to read and do arithmetic. They fight human trafficking, They support hospitals and cure malaria. YOUR GIVING MAKES A DIFFERENCE!
______ Will you commit to increase your giving by 1% of your income this year?
______ Will you commit to increase your giving by 2% of your income this year?
______ Will you commit to tithe 10% of your income?
______ Will you give over and above a tithe, seeking to live sacrificially for the sake of God’s kingdom?
A body doesn’t have a lot of parts that do nothing. And neither should the Body of Christ.
In his letter to the church at Corinth, Saint Paul compares the church to a body, where every member has a vital role to play (1 Corinthians 12). There is the smiling face; there are hands reaching out; there are the legs that take us to new and unfamiliar places; there are internal organs working behind the scenes. Maybe you don’t like the idea of being a “liver,” but try functioning without one for a while! Paul says that every Christian has gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit, and that we should use those gifts for the common good of all. Your gift may be speaking or teaching; it may be singing or praying; it might be working with your hands or providing insightful guidance. Whatever your gift, it should be used in the service of God and his Kingdom. Without you, our work might be crippled. Where do you believe God is calling you to serve? Contact the Pastor or a church board member to volunteer your talents.
______ Will you commit to working with our children’s ministries this year?
______ Will you commit to singing in the choir or playing a musical instrument?
______ Will you commit to making people feel welcome at our worship services?
______ Will you commit to helping keep our church building and grounds attractive and in good repair?
______ Will you commit to leading in worship through readings or drama?
______ Will you commit to using your strength in works of compassion?
______ Will you commit to helping with church administration?
______ Will you commit to using your faith in a ministry of intercessory prayer?
______ Will you commit to use artistic talents in beautifying our church?
______ Will you commit to using another special gift in service of the Church? My gift: ____________________________________
Jesus told his disciples, “You will be my witnesses.” We all have a responsibility to help our neighbors know about Jesus.
Witnesses are those who make known what they have seen, learned, or experienced. It takes no special skill to be a witness. All it takes is a willingness to share that which should be of utmost importance to you—your experience of God through Jesus Christ and the church.
There are many ways we can witness. We can witness with our actions, demonstrating to others that our faith in Christ is real, because it has made a difference in our lives. We can witness by our attitude, by being hopeful and helpful and at peace, when others are distraught. We can witness by our words, sharing the story of how we have come to know Christ, how he has made a difference in our lives, and why we have chosen to believe. We can witness by sharing a book or a card or a tract that invites others to church, or encourages them to become followers of Jesus Christ. But we cannot keep this Good News to ourselves—the world needs the grace that we have experienced.
______ Will you commit to demonstrating your faith in Christ by displaying a positive, loving attitude?
______ Will you commit to demonstrating your faith by participating in ministries of compassion?
______ Will you commit to telling at least one person a month about your relationship with God?
______ Will you commit to inviting someone to church at least once a week?
______ Will you commit to sharing cards or other reading materials that witness to your faith and church involvement?
Remember, your commitments are between you and God. But if you’d like to talk to the minister about how you can grow in consecration, please call the church office so we can set up an appointment.