When I recently posted on Facebook that I had been appointed to serve as the pastor at Klamath Falls First United Methodist Church, a friend commented, “Wait, I thought you retired?” Another pastor from the California Nevada Annual Conference replied, “No, she was put out to pastor[ure].” Many of the retired pastors I know go on to serve congregations even in retirement, or at the very least, to be very active members of the congregations they join after retiring.
The dictionary defines retire as “to leave one’s job and cease to work.” We are a congregation primarily of retirees. But does it ever stop being our job to be disciples of Jesus Christ? Do we ever get to retire from that? Our conference mission statement is “Boldly making disciples of Jesus Christ, vitalizing the church, transforming the world.” Our church mission statement is…do you know it? Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world through knowing God, transforming lives, serving others.
How would you define being a disciple of Jesus Christ? There are probably as many answers as there are people in our church. To be anyone’s disciple means to grow in that discipline. The most succinct definition of our discipline I can think of is love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. I don’t know about you, but that love your neighbor thing is hard. Remember, our neighbor is basically everyone, not just those who look, think or vote like we do. This takes practice and forgiveness, and did I say practice? It is hard work being a disciple. We can’t do it by ourselves. We do it in community. I am committed to this disciple making and becoming thing because I believe in the power it holds to transform our world from a broken and hurting place to a place of shalom. How about you? If we are committed, we never retire from this disciple making endeavor. What we do and how we do it may change as we age, but we never retire from this commitment!