A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
Message from Vic Casad: September 12, 2017
Notes from the Heartland
Last month Mary Brooke and I stayed several days in Seattle. We had been invited there by Mary Brooke’s mother’s 80-year-old first cousin to celebrate the first anniversary of her marriage. We stayed in an Airbnb, the internet service that lets people advertise their spare bedroom for adventurous travelers. We stayed three nights in the home of Marilyn and Cynthia, two older retired women who were still very active and serious artists. We stayed in their basement art studio/bedroom. The basement had its own private entrance with full amenities, and the house was located in a very lush neighborhood.
One night when we came home after a family gathering, the ladies called down to us and asked if we could come up for a visit. So we did. We had a wonderful conversation about our lives and life pursuits. They already knew I was a United Methodist pastor, but I asked them if they had a church affiliation.
They told us with great pride that they were active members of the Center for Spiritual Living. They enjoyed telling us how important their church was to them. I asked them if they had any information about their church that I could have. Cynthia went and found an old brochure called “The Journey of Spiritual Study.”
Later I studied this brochure with great interest. First of all, the Center for Spiritual Living is a church that comes out of the New Thought movement and the writings of Ernest Holmes who started the Science of Mind Church. It is a positive thinking/whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve church. It is not a church in the traditional sense, and the theological difficulties are not what I want to talk about.
But what intrigued me was that this church has its own “Pathway to Discipleship” they call the “Core Spiritual Study Pathway.” The first course is called, “Beyond Limits” and is required by all those who are interested in joining the church. The course is one 3-hour class a week for 10 weeks and costs $225.
After this there are six other courses that members are strongly encouraged to take. There is a course on basic spiritual practices, a course on personal self-mastery, a course on the history of the New Thought movement, a course on financial health, a course on Ernest Holmes, and a course on the Bible which they call, “Watching God Go Up.” Each course is one 3-hour class a week for 10 weeks and cost $225.
This faith community has very high expectations for its members. To continue in this community involves commitment, accountability, and perseverance in both time and money. It also caused me to wonder about our own United Methodist Churches and the expectations we have for our members. Do we have a variety of offerings that are available every year for people to form a basic foundation for their faith and practice? It makes me think of some questions I’d want to ask about your church:
- Does your church have some way to teach and practice the spiritual disciplines?
- Does your church have a way to help people discover their spiritual gifts and personal strengths?
- Does your church provide regular in depth Bible Study?
- Does your church provide training in financial liberation and spiritual economics?
- Does your church teach the states of grace, the means of grace, and what it means to grow in grace?
- Does your church provide a regular course in Church and Methodist history and the foundational doctrines?
- Does your church put expectations on its members to actively strive to deepen their knowledge and practice of being disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?
In His Service and Yours,