Suppose United Methodists encounter Jesus on the road like the rich young ruler. Instead of eternal life, United Methodists ask our Lord “how can we grow the church?” “Implement the Great Commission,” Christ retorts. With ONE MIND United Methodists reply “Been there, done that.” Undaunted, Christ expects more. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all humankind unto me.” Believing that, which worked in the 18th and 19th centuries no longer works in the so-called Post-Christian era, United Methodists grieve our membership loss as if it were a life sentence.
The First ParallelMark’s Gospel: “It’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Hard does not mean impossible.
Bishop’s Story: It’s hard to grow the church if United Methodists believe it cannot grow. Many UMC’s contend that their efforts to implement the Great Commission and other growth strategies are not bearing fruit. Are we a denomination whose faith is as small as a grain of mustard seed?
The Second ParallelMark's’ Gospel: “Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Do something sacrificial in nature to accomplish God’s ends. Intentionality, at its best, may be the old but familiar combination of faith and works.
Bishop’s Story: In some circles the charge to make disciple inspires critique. Isn’t it somewhat arrogant to talk about making a disciple? Is not the Maker of heaven and earth also the Maker of disciples? True. Bu when the second partner of the Godhead says “Go make disciples” via baptism and teaching of the commandments, it points toward how essential the people of God are in the process of making disciples. Making disciples is our work and witness unless we adopt a position or perspective not consistent with Jesus’ discipling process. We don’t call impossible what our Lord says is possible, namely: the making of disciples.