Churches and Cats

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I had the privilege of attending a commitment Sunday service on May 21 at Main Street Church (Walbridge, Ohio), where I served for 12 years prior to this assignment. During this service, the congregation made commitments to a stewardship campaign. The church will probably break ground for a new campus 1.5 miles south of the present building. The plan is to keep the current building for various ministries as well. They hope to break ground in August of this year.
It was an exciting service to attend…great worship and challenge!
It was the first time I’ve attended a service there since I left in the middle of August. EJ and I really looked forward to greeting many of our friends there. The most often asked question of me was, “Well, how are you enjoying being the bishop now after about nine months?” I’ve been asked that before by others across the church. But I’ve never felt comfortable answering that question. You see, sometimes I feel great about serving the church in this capacity. Then there are other times I’d just as soon be doing something else…anything else. Sometimes I feel I’m making a real contribution to the Kingdom. Other times I wonder what I’m doing here. So, the question is not a simple one to answer. I suppose it is like pastoring 200+ churches at the same time.
So in that regard, much of the time I feel like I’m trying to herd cats. Ever tried that? Really hard to do; impossible is more like it. Now, I am a cat person. By just admitting to that, I realize I will probably lose somebody’s respect, maybe “many-bodies.” I don’t have a cat now. Puddin’ died a few years ago after reaching 17 years. She was such a wonderful pet that EJ and I have put off getting another because we don’t think we’d get as good of pet as she was. Plus, we are on the go too much now anyway.
We never had a moment of trouble with her. We got Puddin’ when she was six weeks old. She never cried at night, she began using her litter box from the first day we had her, and she continued using it for as long as she lived.
But she was a cat. A Siamese at that. Moody at times, temperamental at times, aloof at times, friendly at times–but there was no time that she didn’t think she owned us. Oh yes, she did give me some trouble. Whenever I took Puddin’ to the vet, she turned into a tiger…I mean a real tiger. One time as the vet tried to turn her on the table, she bit my finger and wouldn’t let go. The vet was pregnant and didn’t want to risk being bitten or exposed to my blood, and there was a lot of it. So an assistant came and pried the cat’s teeth apart so I could get my finger back. Then they had to “doctor” me. Every time we took her to the vet after that it, was a struggle. Other than that, she was a pussycat.
She was probably a typical cat. She went where she wanted, when she wanted, and how she wanted. You could not herd her any way, shape, or form. But I really enjoyed having her around.
I guess that was good training for this present assignment. I have found that I can’t herd pastors or churches, either. Not that I have much of an urge to do so. But yet, “cat” churches can sometimes be a real challenge.
Mostly, I spend my time trying to help solve problems and casting a vision that I believe God has placed in my heart, not just for this position but in my heart, period. It is the same vision that should be in all our hearts if we are indeed Christians: to make disciples. Isn’t that it? Isn’t that the vision Jesus left us with? Isn’t that to be the main agenda of our personal life as well as the life of the church?
Making disciples is a process. A process that includes evangelism, consolidation (which is the initial new believer follow-up that gets them established in their new-found faith), discipleship (the more in-depth training), and leadership. You see, I want to be involved in this process. I think this is the real task of the church.
One thing I have noticed is how little we talk about making disciples, holding one another accountable for making disciples, strategizing how to make disciples, or reporting on our disciple-making efforts. But then, I guess it is easier just to be a “cat” church sometimes and do what we want, when we want, how we want, and where we want, and not worry about anyone else!

  • Jim Bolich
    Posted at 16:20h, 30 May

    If only in my life and ministry, you are making a significant impact on the Kingdom of God. Thank you for challenging me to strive toward making disciples. Thank you for calling the Church of the United Brethren in Christ forward. And thank you for being both compassionate and deliberate in dealing with conflict. I appreciate both you and your ministry more than words can express.

  • Adam Will
    Posted at 20:25h, 31 May

    I’ve gotta say you’re right. I’ve learned I can’t herd my congregation. It takes leadership and influence. Thanks for yours. But my problem is I seem unready and unschooled in how to train up disciples. Its probably the biggest problem at Eden. How do we do it?
    God Bless,
    Adam Will

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