In Matthew 28, Jesus tells His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Because we are disciples, lay and clergy members attending the 2010 Annual Conference June 6-9 in Fort Worth will be invited to join in a covenant to accept Jesus’ call in Matthew 28 to recommit our lives to “make disciples of all nations.”
On Wednesday morning, June 9, Rev. Joel Robbins, chair of the conference Evangelism Task Force, will share the extraordinary responses that some Central Texas churches are experiencing with radical hospitality in their communities.
Later on Wednesday afternoon, as part of the Sending Forth and Covenant Service, all those present will be invited to sign the following:
Radical Hospitality Covenant — Before Almighty God and my sisters and brothers in faith, I enter into this Holy Covenant to heed Jesus’ call to “make disciples of all nations” by extending the hand of Christian witness to at least two people each week until God calls me from this life. Amen.
“What this covenant requires is that we find two people in our midst, anywhere, and ask if they have a church home,” suggests Robbins, pastor at Mooreville United Methodist Church, where 60 percent of their steady growth over the past five years has been on professions of faith. Robbins attributes this growth to the actions of the church’s laity.
“This is a lifetime commitment,” he says, noting that once entered into, radical hospitality becomes a way of life. Simply asking if a person has a church home opens the opportunity to show radical (or what some call real, Christ-like) hospitality. And there’s no telling where the Holy Spirit might lead that person.
“Spiritual hunger is at an all time high in America,” states Bishop Mike Lowry. “People are ready, eager to respond to those who will reach out and offer the friendship of Christ. I believe the Lord of the Great Commission challenges us to be people of radical hospitality.”
An example of radical hospitality as a way of life will be evident with the presentation of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award(s) during Annual Conference on Monday morning, June 7. This will be the first time this award has been made in the Central Texas Conference in many decades and is cause for great celebration.
As part of the sending forth on Wednesday afternoon, the Evangelism Task Force will provide Radical Hospitality Covenant documents for each congregation at multiple covenant stations around the Annual Conference meeting hall.
Individuals will be invited to sign their covenant document, leave it in a basket, and take another copy of the Radical Hospitality Covenant document back to their congregations for their agreement and participation.
Imagine what God can do with such an army of committed Christians carrying out the Great Commission!
“If all 1,100 people at Annual Conference — laity and clergy — commit themselves to this covenant, it will result in 114,400 invitations in communities this year alone,” states Robbins. “If each congregation signs and participates, in the next 20 years this will result in over one billion invitations! Even if one out of 100 of those invited responds, can you imagine how much the Kingdom could be built? Our plan is that one year from now, we share our testimonies as to how the Holy Spirit guided us to give the invitation in a Wesleyan sense.”
The Evangelism Task Force will also be involved in conducting training events with the conference’s seven districts, as well as providing information and training for congregations on an individual basis as requests for assistance are made.
“Following revivals at two Georgetown-area congregations, members at St. Paul United Methodist Church gave verbal agreement to covenant in sharing their faith. And at Wellspring United Methodist Church, members gave a resounding ‘Amen’ to their covenant agreement,” reports Rev. Robbins.
So far the task force has conducted training in the Temple and Waco districts, plus at First United Methodist Church of Temple where burgeoning growth has necessitated the beginning of construction on a new $5 million worship center. Also on their agenda are Central United Methodist Church in Waco (April 25) and Arborlawn United Methodist Church (the date to be set).