A long time ago during my first year of seminary studies, a professor named Dr. Wendell Davis gave 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 to our New Testament class as something we should hold on to for the work of ministry. He said, “Remember you will never be able to please everyone. But you do not serve everyone. You are servants of Christ.” As servants of Christ we are given a trust and we must be faithful to that trust.
As I seek to live and lead in faithfulness to that trust, I am convinced that God has planted Bethany Church here in the community of Clio for a purpose. The purpose is clear: embody the presence of the Risen Christ and live so that others may know him. We can spend a lot of time and energy on developing a mission statement, but Jesus gave us that: go and make disciples.
In John 14 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know the Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Phillip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Phillip after I have been among you for such a long time?”
Sometimes it can be difficult to see what is under our nose; to comprehend the eternal significance of our everyday actions; to surpass the routine church calendar; to remember that we are called to follow the way of the Lord. And Jesus made it clear: if we want to be recognized as followers of Jesus we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and FOLLOW. This is the work of ministry, and it’s not just the pastor’s job. It’s not just the paid staff’s job. Every one of us is called to act with justice, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God.
The United Methodist Church has a mission statement that guides every local church: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The world is certainly transforming, there is no doubt of that! The question is, are we working God’s Kingdom agenda in the midst of it all, or are we just going with the flow?
This year’s General Conference affirmed the continuation of four areas of focus for the people called Methodist. 1) Engaging in Ministry with the Poor 2) Improving Global Health 3) Developing Principled Christian Leaders 4) Creating New and Renewed Congregations.
As I read the gospels and the book of Acts I see all four of these at work as the early church formed. I see John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, doing the same. Jesus engaged the poor in ministry. The early church shared what they had so that no one went without. Jesus developed leaders and so did Paul. Jesus sent out his disciples to proclaim the Kingdom. Paul planted churches everywhere he went. John Wesley required that the Methodists connect in small groups to be renewed by the transforming of their minds (Romans 12:1-2), to serve the poor and develop new leaders
As the early church moved in step with the Spirit of God, both in the first century when the Church was born and in the 18th when Methodism was formed, God added to the number of those being saved. I pray for a movement of God among us as we seek to follow as the Spirit leads, for the growth of Bethany church in number and in impact on the transformation of the world.
Be fruitful, and multiply!