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Opportunities

Last Monday night I had the privilege (along with Dr. Luther Henry & Dr. Bob Holloway from the Cabinet) of meeting with a forward-looking lay leadership group from predominantly African American churches.  In some courageous, faithful, and painful ways they are wrestling with the future of predominantly Africa-American UMCs in the Tarrant County area.  Real opportunity is present but at the price of a different way of being church.  I was invigorated and encouraged by their willingness to engage the opportunities the Lord is placing before us. Later Dr. Henry sent me an article on evangelism in the African-American UMC context.  Written by F. Douglas Powe, Jr. (Professor of Evangelism & Black Church Studies at St. Paul's School of Theology), the title tells the tale: Evangelism Today Requires New Wineskins (http://www.churchleadership.com/leadingideas/issues/2012issues/120328.html ).  The spot-on insights from Dr. Powe apply to far more than just predominantly African-American UMCs.  The insights apply across the whole church. Another opportunity presented itself Thursday at the Southwestern University Board Meeting.  In the United Methodist Committee meeting (where we look at religious life), we heard a statistical report that roughly 48% of the students self-identify as Christian.  About 49% self-identify as "unknown, not reported, none," etc.!  This is an increase of 67% in the “unknown, not reported, none” in the last five years. The remaining 3% report "other" (Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, etc.). At the same time the Chaplain reported a deep spiritual thirsting and hunger among students (which she is starting new ventures to meet.)  Our college youth are open and seeking.  This represents a great evangelist/witness opportunity for us!  As Jesus said, “The harvest is bigger than you can imagine!” (Luke 10:2 CEB).