A Coalition of the Willing

The more I live into the office of bishop the more convinced I am of the claim to work with those who are willing.  We are building a coalition (or should I say coalitions) of the willing.  Allow me to explain. Recently a District Superintendent reported to me a comment from two pastors in a PLD group.  (PLD groups are Pastors Leadership Development groups that are connected to our conference-wide Healthy Church Initiative offered by the Center for Evangelism and Church Growth.)  Complaining, the two pastors individually asked their DS “do I have to participate in the PLD group.”  Loud and clear, the answer is NO!  Pastors (and lay leaders) choose how they will engage in missonal learning and growth.  All of us are ultimately accountable to God and, in the covenant of the United Methodist connection, penultimately accountable for the choices we make to each other. Our focus as a Conference is to energize and equip local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  Different people and churches will engage (spiritually, missionally & numerically) in different ways.  The Bible’s got it right, “the fields are white unto harvest.”  I want to work with the willing. On a related subject, an exciting new resource just crossed my desk.  Debi Nixon, Adam Hamilton and the team from Resurrection UMC in Kansas City have introduced a great new resource in witness and evangelism entitled Catch: A Churchwide Program for Invitational Evangelism.  As I have said over and over again, we will not turn this great church around from its decadal decline without embracing again evangelism and witness.  The two (evangelism and witness) must be intimately connected to sacrificial service for the hurting, homeless and hungry (again – spiritually, physically or emotionally … or for that matter, all three!).  “The entire program is built on being outward focused and finding ways to attract visitors, connect them in meaningful ways with your faith community, and help them learn how to know, love and serve God.” Do you have to use it?  Absolutely NOT!  But … for God’s sake and for the sake of hurting and hungry people do use something that is faithful and fruitful!  Don’t sit on the sidelines; join a coalition of the willing.