Our district’s nominating committee recently met and contacted each pastor with their committee assignments for 2007. These announcements have me thinking about the committee divisions we have in the United Methodist Church. No, I’m not talking about the old liberal-conservative divide (I am of the mind that these labels becoming increasingly useless); I’m talking about the division between Discipleship, Church Development, Evangelism, and Mission. I’m not exactly sure where these particular divisions came from, but I am sure they are fairly false distinctions. Is mission to be separated from evangelism? Is discipleship something distinct from being involved in mission? Is development of the church something that happens when removed from evangelism, mission, and discipleship?
For the most part, I tend to sit back and observe the overarching structure of Methodism. I really don’t have much influence in these areas, and don’t want to complain for complaining’s sake. However, I do think it would streamline our committees if we would think about things holistically instead of dividing everything up along what I believe are false distinctions.
Think about this. A true missions committee would spearhead initiatives locally and globally. They would be involved in everything from evangelism and social work (once again a dubious distinction) on the local level to short-term and long-term mission work on a regional and global level. Church development would be integrated into the local mission work, seeking to establish new church plants and working to help local churches embody the missio Dei locally. Somehow, the Committee on Discipleship would need to be the umbrella under which all of these committees functioned, because we’re called to make disciples of Jesus Christ, right? Discipleship isn’t just bible study and small groups. It is the holistic development of authentic apprentices of Jesus. It’s calling and leading women and men to follow Jesus in all aspects of their lives. Discipleship is growing in the love of God and neighbor, and if that doesn’t involve the overarching mission of the Church, then I don’t know what does.
Do I have a solution? No. Do I want us to start talking about these things? Yes.
2 thoughts on “Divisions, Divisions, Divisions…”
i think i can start talking about it. i too can wish that our missions was much more global and local in action. i don’t even know what evangelism is for us, however, i do know that we operate in such a survivalist mentality that we don’t outstretch to those in need physically, emotional, or spiritual that there is nothing actually happening. thus, our discipleship is stagnant, except for the studies we do.
Thanks Gavin. I think we have to increasingly talk about evangelism in a communal sense. Far too often, we have pictures of individualistic ‘knocking-on-doors’ ‘if you died tonight’ style evangelism in our minds. What about the authentic community of God engaged in the missio Dei as witnessing community? Would people want to enter that kind of authentic hospitable community? I would say absolutely. You can study, study, study ’till you’re blue in the face, but if you aren’t being a Kingdom community of sorts, then you’re not growing as a disciple. I’ve seen this in my churches. These churches grow inasmuch as they become the Church beyond their walls. Evangelism, mission, and discipleship are simply too intertwined to be treated separately.