by Philip Rhodes, senior pastor, First Hurst UMC.
The mission of the Central Texas Conference (CTC) is to energize and equip local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Energized and equipped, the local church bears the responsibility to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This is our mission. I’m fairly certain that this is not news to anyone still reading. We know what the problem is (declining membership) but we have differing opinions on how to tackle the problem.
Leadership expert and author Simon Sinek, in his book “Start with Why,” says that when we start with what and how in terms of communicating anything, we miss the most important ingredient in the equation, and that is why. When we answer the why question, the what and the how become clearer. It has become abundantly clear to me that we can’t make disciples of Jesus Christ until we become disciples of Jesus Christ. And we can’t transform anything until we ourselves have been transformed.
The “Unbinding” series of studies by Martha Grace Reese focuses on why we do evangelism. Simply put, we do it from a place of deep love for Jesus and telling the story of how he has changed everything in our lives. The study invites us to become disciples of Jesus Christ, discover how he has transformed us and develop the words to share it with others in a natural, authentic way. It’s not a program. It’s a movement.
In the summer of 2012, 20 leaders of FUMC Hurst undertook the study “Unbinding the Gospel.” After this 40-day study, the original 20 group members agreed that the study should be shared with a broader base of church members. In the fall of 2012, the movement grew to more than 120 participants. After the study in the fall, the participants agreed that we should do an all church study and the movement continued.
In Lent 2013, our church is doing an all-church study of “Unbinding Your Heart.” The movement has grown from the original 20 to 120, to now over 600 people signed up for “Unbinding” study groups, including children and students. All other non-essential business will stop for 40 days as we seek Jesus together and unbind our hearts, our minds, and -- perhaps most importantly -- our mouths in an effort to reclaim our story and use words to share it. My hope and prayer is that we in the church will be transformed by Jesus once more and become equipped and compelled to invite others who do not yet know the Good News to come and see. The movement continues………