Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
I greet you in the sweet and saving name of Jesus the Christ.
Fall is here. For we United Methodists this typically signals a time of reflecting, planning and conferencing. Many of you who read this will be involved in preparing for and participating in a Charge Conference in the next two months.
A part of your time at Charge Conference this year will be spent engaging the question of what you and your church are doing to be more positively assertive and competent in evangelistic outreach. This is perfectly consistent with the mission of the United Methodist Church making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”. It is also consistent with one of our four denominational foci on evangelism and congregational development. Using the Charge Conference as a key arena to robustly engage this conversation is an important step in “keeping the main thing the main thing”.
Whether or not you participate in Charge Conference this fall, you are invited to anticipate and engage this conversation in other settings in the local church, district and conference. Evangelism is bearing authentic and faithful witness in word and deed to the life that we have in Jesus Christ. I believe that every one of us and all of our congregations are called to this as our ongoing and primary work.
I want to assure you that I haven’t the slightest interest in our becoming more conscientious about the evangelistic task because we are motivated by the getting more members to help pay the bills. That is frankly unworthy of the gospel and of us. We bear witness in all that we do to the transforming power of Jesus Christ because we are in love with Jesus and want to others to fall in love with him too. We are called to bear witness to the power of the Risen Christ because we love the world that God loves.
I hope we can encourage one another in growing forward our desire, skill and capacity to offer Christ in all of our of the places that we live our lives. “Oh the world is hungry for the living bread. Lift the Savior up for them to see. Trust him and do not doubt the words that he said: I’ll draw all unto me. Lift Jesus up”.
Yours because of Jesus Christ,
Gregory Vaughn Palmer
Illinois Episcopal Area, The United Methodist Church
Illinois Great Rivers Conference