Blog >
Making Disciples
July 1, 2016, 3:02 PM

You’ll hear me talk quite a bit about making disciples of Jesus Christ.  After all, that is the mission of the United Methodist Church.  Boiled down to its essential, the mission of the Church, as adopted by General Conference in 1996, “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.”  (United Methodist Book of Discipline, para 114).  That’s our mission.  Plain, simple, and concise.  It even identifies that this isn’t something the capital C Church is going to accomplish, but it’s up to us, the people on the front lines, those of us in the pews and pulpits of the local churches, who have the most significant impact on that mission being accomplished.  So how do we do that?

Well, we’ve been given guidelines for that.  To carry out the mission of the Church, the local churches need to:

  • Proclaim the Gospel, seek, welcome, and gather persons into the body of Christ;
  • Lead persons to commit their lives to God through Jesus Christ;
  • Nurture persons in Christian living through worship, baptism, communion, Bible and other studies, prayer, and other means of grace.
  • Send persons into the world to live lovingly and justly as servants of Christ by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the stranger, freeing the oppressed, and working to have social structures consistent with the Gospel; and
  • Continue the mission of seeking, welcoming, and gathering persons into the community of the body of Christ.

(Connectional Process Team of the United Methodist Church; Transforming:  A United Methodist Church for the Twenty-First Century (February 1999) pg. 5.

With this in mind as the mission and goals of our church, I want you to begin thinking about what elements we need to focus on, not only in our own lives, but in the life of this church, to make this mission statement a living, breathing part of our DNA.  The Connectional Process Team document goes on to even give us a filter to look at as we make decisions about the future of our congregation: “Will this help us invite, nurture, and empower disciples of Jesus Christ through local congregations and faith communities throughout the world?” (pg.6)

Again, the report gives us a means of determining how to do this with eleven (although I am only presenting five at this time) “transformational directions” that help us provide spiritual leadership – listening, caring, serving leaders whose spiritual life is nurtured by “spiritual disciplines” that have sustained Christians throughout the ages.  These are:

  • Place spiritual formation at the center of our work.
  • Invigorate the ministry of the church.
  • Call forth spiritual leaders.
  • Create a covenant council of spiritual and prophetic leaders.
  • Empower the ministry of congregations and faith communities. (pp.7-9)

In defining this covenant council of spiritual and prophetic leaders, the Connectional Process Team states that these leaders will, “…come together to hear the call of Christ, discern the will of God for our ministry in the world, nourish each other spiritually, and support each other in carrying Christ’s message into the world.”  Further, it says, “We recommend creating in each part of the church (local congregation, annual conference, central conference, and Global Conference) a Covenant Council where spiritual and prophetic lay and clergy leaders will gather for discernment, discussion, decision-making, and disciple-making.” (pg. 8)

You see, becoming an organization that make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world begins with us.  The person who looks back at you in the mirror each day.  I would like to move to form this Covenant Council within our Church as soon as possible.  We need people who will meet together to perform the functions of this Council, not as another committee assignment, but as an essential building block in accomplishing the mission that has been given to our church.  This council will focus on prayer and disciple-making within our own body as we begin to discern God’s will for this church, at this time, and in this place. 

As a church, we must recognize that we are not passive spectators, but energetic participants in God’s activity in the world and in our community.  We are beacons of God’s love and grace, experienced through Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  We serve as witnesses to these acts in our own lives and facilitate them in the lives of others.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment.”  (Matthew 22:37-38).  Discipleship is about loving God .... It’s more than an acknowledgement of God’s existence or a statement of belief regarding God.  It’s not the recitation of a prayer or a creed from memory.  It’s total devotion, head-over-heals-in-love-with adoration.  It’s the deep desire to know God, to be one with God, and to worship God. 

Does this reflect the I longing of your soul?  If so, I encourage you to contact me as we establish this Covenant Council and begin the work of seeing what great things God has begun in our community and our world, and how this local congregation of the United Methodist Church might be part of this activity.

Post a Comment