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.