Keeping Focus

As we go through the work of the Council of Bishops, we (the bishops) by necessity operate at a 30,000 foot level (leading a worldwide church).  And yet I find my mind and heart going back to the hands on sharing of the gospel of Christ.  On the ground, through faithful and fruitful local churches, in tangible ways the witness of God's love is being shared. Recently through the wonderful ministry of the Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF), we received a grant of money to be used at the Bishop's discretion to outreach ministries focused on providing critical needs, such as food, shelter, emergency assistance, care and support.  I went to our Center for Mission Support staff for recommendations.  Focusing on the Focus Area of Ministry with the Poor, we decided to use a significant portion of the grant in rural/small town ministries of food and emergency aid.  We identified key ministries in rural/small town churches (one in each District) engaged in such work and gave them a $2,000 grant from the larger TMF grant. The Pastor of a two point charge whose ministry received the grant wrote me the following in response:  "Last night after our Wednesday night service I went into my office to catch up on reading my mail.  I opened the letter from Bishop Lowry first about the $2000 donation for our food pantry.  I bolted out of my office to interrupt and tell the Bible Study group about it.  They all cheered and were excited - we said a prayer of gratitude right then and there. I went back into my office and sat down to go through the rest of the mail, and I found the check. Again, I bolted out of my office and showed everyone.  There were lots of ‘praise God’ and ‘Glory Be’ statements made. This will  make for a great Emmaus Road story for this weeks sermon.   I should have read my mail earlier.   I appreciate the Bishop recognizing the works of our food pantry and recommending us for the grant.   It is truly a tremendous blessing." In the larger world wide church - spanning  35,000 + congregations & 11.5 million members - leadership and decision making is important, vitally so!  But, the story of God's reign is played out in the particulars; on the ground through local congregations.  It is critical not to lose the focus on local churches.  They are mission posts of the advancing Kingdom of God.  Transformation into true disciples of Christ is taking place!  The Lord's Spirit is moving in our midst!  The Holy Spirit is leading us on a local level from ... Preference to Purpose Maintenance to Mission Meetings to Ministry