I attended the Methodist Conference in Southport last month as an observer. The General Secretary of the Methodist Church, Rev. Martyn Atkins, spoke of Methodism being a discipleship movement which needs to be shaped for mission. He said that shaping for mission requires us to focus our decision-making by asking, ‘what are our desired outcomes?’ We also need to ask questions like, ‘what would we like to see happen?’ and ‘what course of action would best bring this about?’ This will give us the mechanism for making hard decisions when resources are limited, something that affects Methodists whether in the Districts, Circuits or the local church. The decisions we make form a basis for the way in which Methodism at all levels will or will not move forward.
Conference is a time for decisions to be made and for seeing the ‘big picture’ that is Methodism. I also had time to meet up with old friends and make new ones, as well as time for discussion, worship and prayer. All this activity meant we needed space for quiet personal reflection.
This year, as part of my own reflections I have been challenged to ask myself, ‘what is church?’ When I first became a Christian my notion of a church was quite simply a building with a group of people attending worship on a Sunday and the activities of the church were either to get people into worship on a Sunday or to raise funds to keep the church doors open.
Of course, I still believe this to be true but I now know it to be only part of the answer. A church is not just about people coming into a building for worship on a Sunday but is about learning and caring, service and evangelism. This statement, printed on each membership ticket, reminds us of the part we are all called to play in the life of our church.
Over the next months I would like to review and explore with you what we understand about these areas of our Christian life and how best we can resource them in our own church and community.
I ask God’s blessing upon each one of you that you make know the love of the Father, the grace of Christ the Lord and the power of God’s Holy Spirit moving and working in your lives.
Yours in Christ,
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Written by the Minister & Members