Our ministry team prays that January has been a compelling time of discussion and reflection for St. Paul’s regarding the call God has put on all of our lives. It was such a blessing to have people willing to come and share their call stories during worship this month.

I was inspired by the faithful people who, no matter their age, have followed the nudging of the spirit and have found blessings in their service to God and God’s people.

One of the things I was continually reminded of during the Renewed Calling series is that we are all called to ministry. From the members who have been attending since the 1960’s to the guests who have only recently found their way into our church, and even those who join us at community dinners; all who set foot in these doors have an opportunity to experience God and then have a call to share that experience with others. An encounter leading to joy and fulfillment that leads to people’s testimonials is exactly what has fueled the success of the Walt Disney Company!

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney

Disney has, in fact, designed, created and built a magical environment within their theme parks where you can escape from the trying times, baggage and often negativity of the world outside of their properties. Their immersive environments leave no detail unnoticed. Everything from their signage to the landscape, from music and aromas, there are no missteps to distract you and pull you away from the story they are telling. However, no matter how “perfect” the environment is, the whole effort is for naught if it weren’t for the thousands of employees, known as cast members, who believe in the mission and invest their gifts and energy into seeing Walt Disney’s vision come to life.

As soon as you pull into the parking lot there are cast members there to welcome you and begin the process of telling the story and what you can expect. Once they’ve shown you to the gates you are once again greeted by smiling faces who are ready to make your entry into the parks as easy as possible. Hooray! Now you’re in the park and free to roam around this enormous playground of happiness! But, wait…it could be easy to get frustrated if you can’t find your way around. Don’t worry. There are many cast members strategically placed all over to answer and address any questions you might have. AND, they do so with the friendliest spirit and demeanor!

Now, can you imagine how quickly the magic would dissipate and the environment would tarnish if the cast members were not invested in you having the opportunity to experience all that Disney is about? What if you showed up hoping to be swept away by the story of Cinderella or Peter Pan and instead overheard cast members complaining to each other about how there is always so much being asked of them. “The Little Mermaid’s tail is not the right shade of green,” and “isn’t there someone else who can tend to all of these children?” It would completely take you out of the experience and wrap you up in their negativity! As my children would say, “That’s not very Disney.”

As Practicing Christians, we are called to tell the Good News, and that is the story of how Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ abides within each of us. When we come to worship, we have an opportunity to leave behind the trying times, baggage and often negativity of the world outside of the sanctuary of the church. It is so important that we put our self-focus aside so that there is nothing to distract and pull us away from experiencing the presence of God. It’s when we have those encounters leading to healing, joy and fulfillment that we carry the message out to our neighbors and our community. Remembering who we represent, we are called to go out and love all people unconditionally because we were first loved by God in that same way. Anything less and the world will say, “That’s not very Christian.”

Our mission as United Methodists is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our mission statement at Shawnee St. Paul’s United Methodist Church is to make disciples by connecting, serving, and sharing in the love of Christ to all of God’s children. Ask yourself sincerely,

“Am I at a place in my faith that I consider myself a disciple?”

“Am I someone who believes in the mission of my church and denomination?”

“Am I investing my gifts and energy into seeing God’s call on my life bear fruit?”

Lately, each time I step to the edge of the high dive I consider my calling, which is usually outside of my comfort zone, and I summon the courage to let God take my hand and jump in head first. I always come out of it so happy that I did. Then, God keeps whispering to me, “It’s a blessing to be a blessing.”

After all, you can have the best stained glass, the most well-lit steeple, and build the most wonderful children’s wing in the world, but it takes faithful people to be the church for the glory of God.

Tate Monroe, Director of Discipleship and Development