Three Gifts of Pentecost

By Paul Nixon

Diverse group holding hands around table

Many have observed the renewed graciousness that characterized this year’s General Conference. A Pentecost-like spirit of trust, respect, and gentleness came over the house in Charlotte this spring. One friend shared with me: “It felt like a United Methodist potluck dinner.”

In my work with local churches, I am seeing three Spirit-infused components that seem to yield Pentecost every time they converge. They are as follows:

1. Serving our neighbors in love.

When churches seek to love neighbors in tangible ways, they can inspire whole cities to partner with us! United Methodists have a long history of local mission and community service. In this era, such activities may be the best points of entry for neighbors who are often jaded about organized religion.

2. Authentic hospitality that treats new people among us like family.

We can and should organize to welcome properly all who walk into our gatherings. But when the hospitality is organic and unforced, it is even more powerful.

3. Joy.

When a spirit of joy pervades each church gathering, worship and otherwise, newcomers can feel it almost immediately. Joy is truly a well of energy in the desert. People gravitate to any place that exudes it.

All three of these are Spirit gifts, developed and stewarded by Spirit-led leaders, both pastors and lay. Where they converge, United Methodist churches are growing again, in every region and jurisdiction.

In the wake of General Conference and Pentecost in this spring of 2024, the words of Isaiah ring anew: “See I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?” (Isa 23:19)

Questions for reflection:

Which of these three components do you see expanding at your church? What can you do to encourage further development?

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