June 10, 2020
Sometimes called the WIG, the officially adopted goal by the Central Texas Annual Conference!
What is it? Making Disciples of Jesus Christ!
When I was a Sr. Pastor, and I served all size churches short term and long term, I had to remind myself of this again and again. The chaos of leading a church and the demands of the role of Pastor could often lead me far away from what God had sent me to the church to do; like when I changed church toilets, repaired air conditioners, mowed grass, and attempted to solve the many problems that arise in every situation (buildings, budgets, bodies), you know the drill.
In the last year Pastors have been presented with an unprecedented set of challenges:
- Denominational chaos: when/how are we going to split as a church
- COVID-19: who would have thought there would be no in-person worship for months
- Economics: just how much giving does it take to make our churches click
- Racial injustice: whether we wanted to address it or not, we are, we must
All four of these create some level of division, infighting, and confusion in our church families. I pray for you as you lead and pastor your church. We each have people who want to go back, some want to stay, some want to move forward though they might define forward with different priorities, Lord have mercy.
But……. making disciples of Jesus Christ is still our goal.
Questions and learning from the four experiences as church leaders we are all traversing together. If our goal is to make disciples, did we:
- Prepare our church community to respond to denominational chaos as disciples of Jesus Christ?
- Prepare our church community to respond to the COVID-19 season as disciples of Jesus Christ?
- Prepare our church community to respond to economic fears as disciples of Jesus Christ?
- Prepare our people to respond to the killing of Gorge Floyd as disciples of Jesus Christ?
I served my last church, before I came on the cabinet, for 21 years and I confess I did not do it nearly as well as I thought.
Many churches, of every denomination, have been exposed in not making disciples nearly as well as they thought too. It's hard to make disciples. Jesus is not easy to follow, picking up a cross is not an instinct. No group should have been more prepared for this period of upheaval than disciples of Jesus Christ. We weren’t.
Can we do better in the next season, in the new spring (a term Bishop Lowry has used many times), in the post-COVID-19 time of the church as we figure how to do in-person worship again? Apply our learnings from digital and online work, figure out how groups might function best in what the church is becoming, refocus mission and vision, figure out what we change, what we don’t, what we keep, what we stop, what we add. What metrics should we use to measure effectiveness, what should the narratives look like, maybe even do some personal work on what a disciple of Jesus Christ really is as we search for what God is doing among us.
Prayers as we follow Christ together in where we are leading the church together in the Making of Disciples of Jesus Christ together.
Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director
Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth