Paragraph 122 and the WIG ©

Frost United Methodist Church is a part of a two point charge (with Blooming Grove UMC). The town itself has a population of less than 700 people. Rev. Kevin Diggs, the pastor of Frost UMC, was invited by some local folks at the Party Barn to share a Bible study. Tag Green who is our Lay Supply Pastor at the Italy/Dresden Charge joined with Kevin and the crowd. Together they collectively named the Bible study “Beer, Bourbon, and the Bible.”  They have been going strong since January and every week they have new unchurched (non- or nominal Christians) attending. Frost UMC has an average worship attendance of 18 (2017 statistics). Last week the attendance at “Beer, Bourbon, and the Bible” was 42. It is now regularly 35 plus and often over 40. Last week a gentleman had gone to his local church (non-Methodist) and was turned away because he had alcohol on his breath. He went to Frost UMC instead because, as he put, he “knew that if they had ‘Beer, Bourbon, and the Bible’ they would welcome him.”  He came for church; stayed for Sunday School and called Pastor Diggs on Monday morning for counseling. God is at work transforming his life through the great ministry of Frost UMC. The Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, is at work in the WIG of the Central Texas Conference. To refresh memories, WIG = Wildly Important Goal. Our WIG as a Conference is the very mission of the church. It can be found in The Book of Discipline 2016 ¶120. “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”  The WIG lives and breathes as narratives (stories of transformation) are put together with the metrics of disciple making (professions of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and worship attendance as the first and most basic discipline of discipleship). The United Methodist Church lives out of the conviction that local churches are the focal point of making disciples of Jesus Christ. (Thus The Book of Discipline lays out with care the foundational ministries of the church. The paragraph in which the Discipline delineates the mission and ministry foundation of a local congregation of The United Methodist Church is ¶122. It is worth noting in detail for this lies at the heart of the WIG. ¶ 122. The Process for Carrying Out Our Mission-We make disciples as we:
  • proclaim the gospel, seek, welcome and gather persons into the body of Christ;
  • lead persons to commit their lives to God through baptism by water and the spirit and profession of faith in Jesus Christ;
  • nurture persons in Christian living through worship, the sacraments, spiritual disciplines, and other means of grace, such as Wesley’s Christian conferencing;
  • send persons into the world to live lovingly and justly as servants of Christ by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the stranger, freeing the oppressed, being and becoming a compassionate, caring presence, and working to develop social structures that are consistent with the gospel; and
  • continue the mission of seeking, welcoming and gathering persons into the community of the body of Christ.
Paragraph 122 churches are congregations that live out the great WIG mission of the church. ¶122 offers a pretty good shorthand list for congregational ministry engagement.
  1. Proclaim, seek, welcome & gather
  2. Lead
  3. Nurture
  4. Send
  5. Continue the mission
¶122 congregations live the WIG. They stay focused on proclaiming the gospel, leading persons to faith in Jesus Christ, nurturing people in Christian living through the means of grace sending persons into the world in ministries of love, justice, and mercy while developing social structures that are consistent with the gospel and welcoming people into the church as the Body of Christ. Paragraph 122 is a mouthful but, when you see it in action or have the joy of being a part of it, truly you are seeing God at work. I offer two other examples. Recently Pastor Kissa Vaughn of Grace UMC in Copperas Cove attended one of our WIG Workshops. She wrote Rev. Mike Ramsdell (Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Growth) the following note:
“Thanks for your presentation at the WIG conference. [Note: 170 churches have been present at one of the 5 WIG Workshops.]  On that Saturday I was so inspired by what was shared that I went home and changed up the end of my sermon for that Sunday and it fit in perfectly. I issued a challenge to my congregation called the Covenant of 1200. I invited them (at least 100) to make a covenant to issue an invitation to church once a month for 1 year. Last Sunday after the challenge was issued we had 10 visitors in worship from invitations by our people. . . . Please pray for me as I present the WIG information to our leadership board on Thursday and we begin wrestling with what God might be calling us to do next.”
Last week we got a call Linda Spence, Executive Secretary to Co-Pastors Todd Renner and John McKellar at White’s Chapel. Linda was having trouble entering her weekly report on the Vital Signs metrics. It seems that White’s Chapel had 168 Professions of Faith last week from confirmation class. For some reason the Vital Signs system will only allow up to 150 Professions of Faith as an entry in a given week. We are working on a fix to the system. Meanwhile and much more importantly, God in Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is moving in our midst. Congregations of all types and stripes are having amazing things happen when they meld the ministry of ¶122 with the WIG.

20 Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; 21 glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)