The WIG – Narratives: Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing! ©

The famous idiom recalled in the title above sticks in the mind and immediately raises forth the question, “what is the main thing?” For well more than two decades in the Central Texas Conference, the main thing has been our mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This mission comes straight from the risen Lord Jesus Christ. 
“Jesus came near and spoke to them, ‘I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.’” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is also the steadfast focus of our Wildly Important Goal (WIG).
When the Cabinet and I consider the WIG, our stress is first and foremost on what we call “narratives” – the shared stories of transformation under the Lordship and salvation of Jesus Christ. As Gil Rendle, senior consultant and guru for the Texas Methodist Foundation, puts it: “The narrative changes before the numbers do.” 
It is easy to get lost in the numbers or metrics associated with our Wildly Important Goal. Currently, we are working on recasting the metrics, which are an important part of keeping the main thing the main thing. Re-envisioned metrics are a part of our “Forward to a New Spring” missional strategy that was adopted at our recently concluded Annual Conference. We will have a roll-out of “revised WIG metrics” in January. The revised metrics will include
  1. number of small groups for discipleship development,
  2. professions of faith, and
  3. worship attendance (both in person and online).

However, as I have emphasized above, an even more crucial aspect of this ministry is highlighting the stories of transformation through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit through our Lord Jesus Christ. With the narrative stories at the forefront, we are keeping the main thing the main thing! As such, it is my joy and pleasure to share the following “WIG celebrations” through brief snippets of the narratives that have been passed on to me by District Superintendents and other Cabinet members. 

A youth from Rockbridge (South District) wrote a letter to the church thanking them for the ways in which that congregation helped her grow in her faith. In the letter, she highlighted the importance of being part of a Christian community that held each other accountable and loved one another.   
The Brock congregation (North District), with Rev. John Nader’s leadership, worships outside and online, combining worship and evangelism by worshiping outside at the school across the street from the church. The congregation continues to marry itself to the community as they walk the neighborhood passing out flyers personally inviting people to the Christmas Eve worship.  
Pastor Gabe Dominguez of Life Church, a second campus of First UMC, Waco (Central District) writes: “Every Wednesday, we have our men's Bible study. This past Wednesday, we had a dad named Javier and his young son Xavier (looks 10 or 11) show up that we have never met before. The father shared that he was having terrible marital problems and had just lost his job. The gentleman later shared in front of his son [some other, quite serious struggles he had very recently faced, and the intervention from his young son that help get him past the worst of it]. He also has an 18-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter. Join me in prayer for this family. We've exchanged numbers and I've been following up with him today and will continue.” 
The UCF Navarro Wesley (Campus Ministry) is hosting a Bible study on the lawn of the Navarro College campus, due to COVID restrictions on inside gatherings. They have had 50-70 people join the Bible study each week. (photo left is some of the Wesley Ministry Team) Recently, one of her students ran up to Dr. Meredith Bell, the Navarro Wesley Campus pastor, and said “I am ready to be baptized… will you baptize me.” She and Rev. Steven Bell will be baptizing this young student. 
One Fellowship’s (New Church District in Waco) recently held a prayer walk where they walked through their neighborhood asking people if they might pray for them. It provided team members an opportunity to witness to their faith, even though there were sometimes language barriers!!
New Riverside is a bi-lingual new church start led by Pastor Armando Alvarado (New Church District in Fort Worth). Three churches came together beginning a dream to reach the Riverside and Fort Worth Area – Faith an Anglo Church, El Buen Samaritano and La Trinidad, Latino Churches. Sunday, they had a parking lot service in two languages that included the presentation of two new babies, one Latino, and one Anglo. 
Rev. Carol M. Roberts sent notice of the joyous occasion of an adult baptism on Oct. 18 at Lake Brownwood United Methodist Church (West District). The woman was immersed in a metal trough borrowed from FUMC Brownwood. Family members were present to witness the baptism, which was live-streamed so that other loved ones in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania could also watch and celebrate.
At St. Barnabas in Arlington (East District), Dr. Ginger Bassford says, “…necessity is the mother of invention... we postponed confirmation as long as we could, hoping that we could be back in worship. But as most things 2020, COVID would not comply. We did not find the idea of a soaker gun very holy, nor was a drive-by splash during a rain deluge. After praying forever, I studied the BOD - not my first go-to. Nowhere does it say the elder must lay on hands. So, I thought about having the parents immerse the kids while I presided. We baptized & confirmed each confirmand individually in swimming pools at church member homes with family, close church family, friends, mentors, and staff. It was awesome!
What is truly awesome is seeing the Holy Spirit move in, around and through us with acts of disciple making. The promise of the Lord Jesus is being lived out in the congregations of the Central Texas Conference.
“The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.” (John 14:26)