WHAT I LEARNED IN 2006…. It is never too late to learn something. I leaned or relearned several things during this past year that might be worth sharing.
Change is not easy but it is energizing. Our Annual Conference has experienced lots of change during the past year. The biggie is the transitioning process from 12 districts to 8. Even though we have talked about such a change for years (decades) it has not been easy. We just do not like change, especially as we get older. It is so unknown that it is frightening. Yet it has been positively energizing for our congregations as we have become more aware of our connectional structure and for me personally. I need to get out of the ruts of sameness. It is far better than vegetating. The Gospel is about change… change of heart and soul, change of life style, change of mind (hopefully more open) and change of bad habits. It is not easy to learn how to change but it is renewing.
New church starts are threatening to established congregations but essential for disciple making. The announcements of new church starts are received passively if they take place in other, distant communities but get ready for the onslaught if they start within 10 miles of an existing church. People are fearful and think their church will fade away if new congregations are established. The reality is that a high tide causes all ships to rise. New church starts begin in growing communities. With that growth every congregation, old and new, is presented with new opportunities for growth. Our denomination got its start building new churches. There was a time when the Methodists built, now get this, three new churches every day! Every Day! We grew to be the largest protestant denomination in the United States. Instead of being threatened we should be grateful that God is bringing people to our communities and doorsteps.
Open doors, open hearts and open minds is more than a catchy slogan. Visiting churches throughout the South Central District has been very rewarding for many reasons. One of those reasons is to witness the great diversity within the ranks of membership. Congregations that were once all white or all black are now a growing mixture of races. During the charge conference season I was in at least two of our predominately white churches where those who had made professions of faith during the year were African-American. I also saw and rejoiced that our churches are a healthy mixture of the very old and the very young and all in between. Lots of people feel right at home under our large tent, our tabernacle of God’s grace.
Disciple making happens when: 1) Authentic Christian worship is priority. 2) Congregations are committed to a mission beyond themselves. 3) Pastors and laity demonstrate their co-mission to the mandate of our Lord to make disciples. 4) Generosity is the rule rather than the exception. 5) Positive words and attitudes exist among church members. 6) Loving God and Neighbor prevails.
I HOPE TO LEARN EVENMORE IN 2007! T. Michael Morgan
Discover, Develop and Deploy Spiritual Leaders to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.
The United Methodist Center
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