GC2016 Update: How We Make Disciples

Tim BrusterDear Friends,

I am writing this blog post late on Thursday evening after a long day of work. In my last blog post, I shared with you that Bishop Palmer, in his episcopal address, reminded us of the part of “The Book of Discipline” (paragraphs 120-122) which states our mission, the rationale of our mission, and the process by which we carry out our mission as a denomination and in our local churches and ministries. In this post from General Conference, I want to share that part of the “The Book of Discipline” with you because it helps us remained focused on who we are and what we do as the people called Methodist. As you read these words, I invite you to read them slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully. As you read them, think about the issues and needs we face in our community, our state, our nation, and our world:

The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and by exemplifying Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor, thus seeking the fulfillment of God’s reign and realm in the world. The fulfillment of God’s reign and realm in the world is the vision Scripture holds before us. The United Methodist Church affirms that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the Lord of all. As we make disciples, we respect persons of all religious faiths and we defend religious freedom for all persons. Jesus’ words in Matthew provide the Church with our mission: “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” (28:19-20), and “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (22:37, 39).

This mission is our grace-filled response to the Reign of God in the world announced by Jesus. God’s grace is active everywhere, at all times, carrying out this purpose as revealed in the Bible. It is expressed in God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah, in the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, and in the ministry of the prophets. It is fully embodied in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is experienced in the ongoing creation of a new people by the Holy Spirit.

John Wesley, Philip Otterbein, Jacob Albright, and our other spiritual forebears understood this mission in this way. Whenever United Methodism has had a clear sense of mission, God has used our Church to save persons, heal relationships, transform social structures, and spread scriptural holiness, thereby changing the world. In order to be truly alive, we embrace Jesus’ mandate to love God and to love our neighbor and to make disciples of all peoples.

 And then there is the process of making disciples:

We make disciples as we:

• Proclaim the gospel, seek, welcome, and gather persons into the body of Christ;
• Lead persons to commit their lives to God through baptism by water and the spirit and profession of faith in Jesus Christ;
• Nurture persons in Christian living through worship, the sacraments, spiritual disciplines, and other means of grace, such as Wesley’s Christian conferencing;
• Send persons into the world to live lovingly and justly as servants of Christ by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the stranger, freeing the oppressed, being and becoming a compassionate, caring presence, and working to develop social structures that are consistent with the gospel; and
• Continue the mission of seeking, welcoming, and gathering persons into the community of the body of Christ.

We began our legislative committee work this morning. There are 11 legislative committees and each one is working on an aspect of the life of the church. The committees will work through Saturday and the plenary sessions of the Conference will act on what comes out of the committees next week.

Please continue to hold the General Conference in your prayers.

More later . . .

Grace and Peace,


What can you do? During the conference, you can:


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