Our Missional Imperative
Happy New Year!!!
It’s hard to believe that 2016 is now upon us! We are less than 5 months away from General Conference 2016. As many of us become anxious with anticipation for this grand gathering of United Methodists from around the world, let us continue to be centered in on WHY we do what we do for the sake of building the Body of Christ in the world today. Laceye Warner reminds us that “the emergence of Methodism in America is commended for its heritage as a renewal movement, particularly the claim that Methodism developed from a missional imperative rather than from doctrinal disputes…” (The Method of Our Mission: UM Polity and Organization) Reclaiming the “missional imperative” has been at the heart of our work as a connection over the past several decades as we have focused in on the mission of “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. (and believing that) Local Congregations are the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.”
With so many challenges in our world today like the refugee crisis across the world, violence and terror erupting in so many places (both known and unknown), natural disasters (related to climate changes) wiping away people’s lives and the inequity of wealth and resources that permeate our cultural ethos there is no shortage in work to be done for God’s mission in the world. In fact, one of our Agency Researchers, Derrick Hodges from GCORR, recently reminded us that the Pew Research on the religious landscape in the US notes that the populations of the working-class and the poor are increasing with so many of the previously named factors affecting their lives. In early Methodism, these groups were at the heart of our movement. John, Charles and Francis made it their missional imperative to be in the fields and in the streets with those with the greatest needs.
The question for United Methodists today is: How will we come together to unite with one another so that Christ may use us to transform people’s lives around the world? General Conference is the place where we are being called forth as faithful Disciples to demonstrate how 12 1/2 million people called United Methodist can be the Body of Christ and make a difference throughout the world.
There is a missional imperative for us NOW! People need to know of God’s grace and love! People need to experience the transforming power of Jesus Christ! People need to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as they face the trials and tribulations of this world today. Let us not be lukewarm in our sharing of God’s love. I pray that each and everyone of us will passionately proclaim the hope that Christ offers all of us from the many places in our connection where God has called us and especially at General Conference 2016! The Shepherds and the Wise men went and told the world of the good news that God has come among us! That is the Epiphany Story! Let us join them and remind United Methodists around the world that God is with us AND calls us to “Therefore, go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19)
Our work is not yet done.
The Council of Bishops have committed to 131 days of prayer starting January 1, 2016 in preparation for General Conference. Each Annual Conference across our connection has been invited to host a 24-hour prayer vigil on a specific date, with the intent of creating a shower of prayer in the days leading up to General Conference. Take time to see when your Annual Conference will be holding their vigil for GC2016 and join in the call to prayer for the sake of God’s work through the people called United Methodist.
-Rev. Amy Valdez Barker, Ph.D.
The Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church