SPARK: System Reset?
By Ken Sloane
Fall is always a busy time for me. Everybody is thinking about stewardship; conferences are having special training events; and many of the national groups I connect with seem to plan their annual gathering during these months. This year is even busier because I was invited to be a part of planning the Wesley Pilgrimage trip to England next year, and registration opens in November. Oh, and did I mention that we had two family weddings this season: our two daughters, one at the beginning of October and the second in mid-November? Hectic is just scratching the surface.
My co-workers have been kind when I miss a step, sneak something in past the deadline, or forget to put in a request for their help in the proper format. One of them wrote, “You get one mistake a year, so you've got a month before that counter resets!”
Resets? As in starting over?
Maybe that really is what January is all about. The name of the month comes from the Roman mythology of Janus, a god with two faces, one that looks to the past and one that looks to the future. The only thing that would be better would be if the one that looked to the past had a blindfold on.
I think January could be a really important time for our United Methodist churches. The process of disaffiliation is behind us (the window the Book of Disciplined opened with ¶2553 closes on December 31, 2023). We will move into the new year with fewer worldwide members but with a keener interest in our identity, doctrine, and sense of mission.
Maybe it has been a tough year for your local church, as you are still adjusting to what the “new normal” looks like. Maybe some programs don’t seem so relevant anymore. Maybe there are items in your budget that cost more but don’t seem appropriate for the current size of your faith community. Maybe there are some things you’ve “always done this way” that need a closer look, and maybe there are resources that could be shifted from the “church we used to be” to the “church God is calling us to be in 2024.”
I let my computer stay on at night until it goes to sleep, and then I just wake it up in the morning when I get back in my office. Sometimes, though, it gets so full of things I was doing and places I’ve visited that it just needs a chance to restart. System reset.
Don’t miss the opportunity January offers to do a system reset.
Ken Sloane is the Director of Stewardship & Generosity for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.