Looking Back to Look Ahead


Looking Back to Look Ahead
The Current, January 2015
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton
          Larry Hollon, General Secretary of United Methodist Communications presented an informative report to the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table November 7, 2014.   I have drawn a number of facts and comments from his report that ought to help us keep our focus on “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”.  UMCom has conducted numerous research projects for the United Methodist Church.  The most recent survey of 13,500 lay and clergy yielded the impressions that follow. 

  1. United Methodists valued diversity, expressed major concern over the unity of the church, struggled with the issues of homosexuality, culture, Justice and wanted assistance with the question “What is a disciple?”
  2. Survey respondents pleaded for leaders to focus on mission in its complex and varied expressions. They don’t want the church to be defined by a single issue.
  3. Evidence has emerged that fewer denominational initiatives and simpler messages are more helpful in enabling the whole church to focus its mission and ministry.Since 1988, clergy and laity have tried to get on board with Vital Congregations and Making Disciples, the Seven Vision Pathways, the Four Areas of Focus, Metrics and the Adaptive Challenge with little success.
  4. There is an increasing awareness that limiting our aim to Vital Congregations and the Four Areas of Focus is best right now.They are:Engaging in Ministry with the Poor, Improving Global Health, Developing Principled Christian Leaders and Creating New and Renewed Congregations.
          General Secretary Hollon adds a humorous narrative that deserves reading and reflection. 
          “Why did Jesus choose fisher persons for his disciples?” 
  1. They go the where the fish are. This is outside the institutional walls. The fish they sought were not inside the religious institution in Jesus’ time.
  2. They don’t argue with the fish about the bait. They fish.
  3. They’re always glad to tell what they caught, even tell about the catch with enthusiasm. We have a story to tell of God’s love as revealed in Jesus Christ.
2015 Annual Conference
A couple of reminders for Annual Conference,  
  1. In keeping with our emphasis for Act of Repentance toward healing relationships with Indigenous People Service, please read “Giving Our Hearts Away, Native American Survival” by Thom White Wolf Fassett (used by UMW) and/or an upcoming Devotional on the IGRC website during Lent entitled “Walking the Trail toward Repentance.”
  2. Prepare for the OFFERING OF PLEDGES related to an Africa University Endowment Scholarship Campaign.Work with your DS to get your pledge amount recorded.When we pray and total our pledges from all the IGRC churches during Annual conference, one million dollars will be on its way help these students “increase in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and humankind.”More later.
          Happy New Year!