Currently I am in Monterrey, Mexico. The Central Texas Conference has an ongoing covenantal relationship with the Eastern Conference of the Methodist Church of Mexico (an affiliated church). I will blog about our learnings on returning. In the meantime, I have been collecting some insights worth reflection in my reading, which I pass to you. They are episodic but interesting (at least to me). In a recent research article in Background Data for Mission (put out by the General Board of Global Ministries, http://new.gbgm-umc.org/), Rev. John Southwick, the author, writes lifting up the outstanding ministry of some non-UM churches: “Some might question why this newsletter, and last month’s, did not feature United Methodist Churches. There are certainly many of them doing wonderful ministry. Those highlighted here happen to be those I have personally encountered within a short time prior to writing. Of more importance, these churches are doing remarkable ministry in places where others have not fared so well. Seattle and New York are among the least churched cities in the US and yet these ministries have not only done well, they have gone over the top. The two churches noted last month, City Church in Seattle and Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York, along with Redeemer Presbyterian, are reaching more people, younger people, and more diverse people. They are doing it with excellent music, strong preaching, an emphasis on evangelism, a love for their context, and a driving sense of vision and purpose. All churches can strive to improve in these areas and may be pleasantly impressed with the results.” Catch the emphasis near the close. It is critically important and bears repeating. “They are doing it with excellent music, strong preaching, an emphasis on evangelism, a love for their context, and a driving sense of vision and purpose.” On another subject, many have reported on the United Methodist Church having a positive image among Americans in general. The following quote is worth reflection. “(United) Methodists are well liked — and there is great opportunity if (United) Methodist churches will seize the opportunity that this positive perception provides,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “If they will show and share the gospel with their neighbors and plant evangelistic churches – they can turn a good reputation into a gospel opportunity.” I have heard Ed Stetzer speak. He is graciously ecumenical and often on target. His writings are worth a look: www.edstetzer.com.