United Methodist Forum: Why I am United Methodist (Reto Naegelin)

Translate Page

'All other things are opinions'

By Reto Naegelin
September 27, 2017

Courtesy photo of Reto Naegelin.

Courtesy photo of Reto Naegelin.

First, I am not a Methodist; I am a Christian. But if you’d like to call me a Methodist, I’ll tell you what my faith is about. These words by John Wesley are one reason why I am a part of the people called United Methodist.

So, what is my faith about? As Wesley said, we should in a few essentials be one, but all other things are opinions. This fits my deep understanding of being a representative of God in this world. Pray together, break bread together, share love together and all other things are opinions. Every human being is loved by God and has his or her unique relationship and, of course, her or his one call and way. So I am called to be in a deep friendship with Jesus to change the world with God’s love. And I am also warned to not judge other people (Luke 6:37).

As long as I can remember I’ve tried to connect people who are not, and never will be, a part of the traditional church with the love of God. In my work as a “Bluesdeacon,” I try to be a full part of a specific subculture and represent God’s kingdom there. In other words, like Jesus, full in the world but not from the world. I understand my “job” in his kingdom is to be an ambassador. An ambassador is fully a part of the nation he lives in, but his car, his home, himself (or the place he stands) belongs to another nation or kingdom. In all subcultures of our society are people who struggle with the traditional church or are searching for their place and job in this world.

For these people — I call them the “gospelopen” but nonreligious people — my heart is beating.  I just started a new movement called “eifachWiit.ch” (which means in English “simply wide”) to find, connect, empower and consult them to be a Christian in their way, at their place, with their people. Sometimes this is in opposite to the mainstream understanding what a Christian is or should be. It is not easy at all to make the traditional religious people understand that their rules and traditions do not all fit for the people in other subcultures. This is not a new issue — maybe you’d like to check the Book of Acts 11 and 15. 

Last year was horrible for me and I feel like a newborn, starting all over again. I decided to quit my job as director of the children and youth department of UMC-Switzerland to serve God and these people in full and start living a new (old) way of understanding church. As Wesley said, “The world is my parish” (yes, I would love to travel on a horseback, but it is so expensive in Switzerland!). I began to build a ministry for supporting these people and a community to connect them. The general board of UMC-Switzerland decided to support this project for the next four years. The main goal is not to bring more members to The United Methodist Church, but to reach more people by the love of God, that the world will be changed for the better. Many other denominations are really surprised that The United Methodist Church supports a project like this. Isn’t this amazing?

That is my understanding of prevenient grace. And I will be a part of such a graceful movement. I hope and pray that we as followers of Christ, called the Methodists, will be known as the people who will not condemn, but change the world by prevenient grace, loving people with heart, hands and brain to better.

If you’d like to join our movement, please visit www.eifachwiit.ch. But at this time you’ll need to use the Google translator.

Reto Naegelin is founder and leader of EifachWiit (SimplyWide), a movement for nonreligious Christians in Switzerland. He also is the author of the book "Kirchen die Menschen mögen - die Kirche anders denken" (Church how likes People - Rethink Church) and formerly director of the children and youth department of the UMC Switzerland. 

Return to the Many Voices, One Faith home page


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton (center, in red), chief news and information officer for United Methodist Communications, shares updates with African communicators and other UMCom staff during the 2019 General Conference. World Press Freedom Day, observed May 3, commemorates journalists and highlights the difficulties they face while reporting truth. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News

World Press Freedom Day and the church

Tim Tanton with United Methodist News talks about giving voice to the voiceless and why freedom of information is essential not only for society but for the church.

Wesley’s Chapel makes history relevant today

While still welcoming visitors who want to see the church that Wesley built, the current congregation is firmly focused on the denomination’s presence in the community and contributions to global Methodism today.
Bishop Bruce R. Ough gives his address April 29 at the spring 2018 meeting of the Council of Bishops in Chicago. Photo by Anne Marie Gerhardt, Northern Illinois Conference.

Bishops begin high-stakes deliberations

Council of Bishops president said the church is watching as bishops finalize recommendations aimed at fending off church splits over homosexuality.