All of us agreed what we would have liked in our Annual Convention is a renewed sense of mission. A minimum of, nobody in our group supplied any dissent to the concept. The sentiment made sense. During the last 20+ years, I’ve heard many criticisms of The United Methodist Church coming from lay folks. However I’ve not heard any criticisms of United Methodist Committee on Reduction (UMCOR). The highpoint of our Annual Convention assembly has been the ceremonial sounding of the horns by the truck drivers carrying the mission kits and buckets for Liberia or Zimbabwe. It’s a truism that individuals are extra enthusiastic in giving to missions than to budgets. So, we could ask, why is every thing falling aside?
The Mission Sense
I’m conscious of the colonialist baggage of the phrase mission. Everybody is aware of the time period. We use it for church works of charity, witness, and outreach. What I wish to talk about although is the sense of mission.
A pal in seminary and I requested a easy query amongst ourselves. Do United Methodists worth contemplation? We answered no. You can’t worth one thing once you don’t know what it’s. This reality was demonstrated a number of years later in dialogue led by a lay individual. He wished to speak about John Wesley. John is an effective subject for Methodists. In truth, we’re extra conversant in a few of Charles’ compositions. However that’s as a result of we sing them.
The lay member learn how John and his associates held “Morning Prayer” at 5:00am. “What’s that?” He requested. Truthfully, he didn’t know the United Methodist Hymnal (UMH) contained companies for every day morning and night prayers. Since he turned his query to me, I answered as greatest I may. The following season once I led the weekly research I introduced within the observe of “Night Prayer” as described by the UMH.
Being and Doing
I want I may say everybody realized to wish and our mission expanded. It will not be true. However night prayer has been a lift for congregations the place I added it. If our sense of mission grew due to it, I didn’t see it. I made the error of believing it ought to.
Methodists, unconsciously generally, comply with the components of St. Luke in Acts 1:1b. “I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the start.” We connect extra significance to motion than to the rest. It’s a half the English cultural heritage of Individuals. Contemplating this reality, it’s straightforward for each religion observe to be the gasoline for mission.
A pal who left United Methodist ministry for the Episcopalian priesthood made this level. “There isn’t any room for being.” We’ve got tried to additional develop spirituality throughout the Wesleyan motion. We’ve got borrowed Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox traditions. However we can’t get previous the hurdle of considering these practices solely have worth in relation to our actions.
The difficulty is straightforward. How will we report what we’re doing? It’s cost convention season for my Annual Convention. Reviews on our congregational mission are requested. On the finish of the 12 months, the aptly named “12 months-Finish” experiences will measure our congregation’s mission effectiveness. We shall be requested how a lot cash we raised, the place it went, and what number of “giving items” have been concerned. 12 months-end experiences additionally ask about membership numbers, congregational, gender and ethnic composition, deaths and baptisms, and what number of small teams met.
These are strategies to quantify missions. Clergy who’ve simply completed the Introduction/Christmas seasons are required to report totals. In different phrases, we’re to scale back a 12 months’s value of ministry to measurements that negate the being a part of “being in mission.” The query, although, is how else can we all know we’re efficient in mission?
Having a renewed sense of mission was agreed amongst our clergy small group. It was composed of pastors from giant and small church buildings. Pastors who have been both lively or retired. And pastors who have been liberal, traditionalist, average, and one self- recognized liberationist made up this group too. Why did all of us agree on missions? It was the easy undeniable fact that we will do mission collectively with out contemplating the variety of the members. Mission can be utilized for the aim of distraction. Contemplate how variations of race, class, and beliefs disappear throughout sporting occasions. The occasion distracts from the variations. There’s a worth in having it achieve this.
Are problems with inclusion, justice, holiness, and doctrine essential? In fact they’re. More often than not, they’re abstractions. It isn’t till somebody acts that they grow to be concrete. It’s simpler to go away these points within the summary and make charity, witness and outreach concrete in missional motion.
The Common Guidelines, the world as parish, and spreading scriptural holiness all through the land are Wesleyan expressions of missional spirituality. Summary concepts about “scriptural authority” or “intentional inclusion” are supposed to grow to be unifying rules that find yourself dividing folks. A missional spirituality of prayer, scripture studying/research, and contemplation centered on turning into empowered as religious residents of Heaven alive on this world, is the sense of mission wanted.
Our actions of outreach, witness, and caring grow to be the outcome reasonably than the aim of life lived in missional spirituality. Our missional actions shouldn’t outline us. It’s the different method round. What we’re turns into what we do.