Maybe the Mission (Statement) of the UMC has led to decline

Based on this “Great Commission,” our United Methodist Church has stated its purpose: “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs” (From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church—2008, p. 87. Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission).

So the mission of our congregation is to make disciples. This is a four-fold task….We could abbreviate our mission as one of welcoming-worshiping-nurturing-sending. (See The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church—2008, p. 88, and Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation, 2005-2008.

via Mission and Ministry – UMC.org.

I’m not wanting to get into a full discussion on the validity of the traditional translation of Matthew 28.19. There are, of course, various issues to consider, but one of the ways which I have seen is to translate the “make disciples” into a more, um, corporate experience. Sort of like: “teaching all nations….” Moving from the individuals to the  corporate. The focus is not on the individual, but on the group.

In pondering United Methodism – we are going through the Book of Discipline in our Sunday School class – I got to wondering if the focus on “make disciples of Jesus Christ” is still much of an individualistic enterprise. Now, to be fair, their entire statement is not so individualistic, but then again, rarely ever is the entire statement plastered on walls, letterheads, and church documents as much as the simplistic mission statement has been. However, if the mission of the UMC is simply to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, then where is the community which we seen as important in Ephesians? In my opinion, the goal of the Church Universal is not an individualistic one. There is no individualistic salvation, no individualistic Magisterium, or individual discipling.

So, as I was thinking, I saw this post from ]],

One more piece of context: the entire talk was shaped as a call to passionate, faithful, believing discipleship propelled by an individual’s own reading of the Bible without anyone telling us what it says other than what we can see for ourselves….

…The 90 seconds troubles me, because it captures one possible way of construing the relationship between personal discipleship and the world “out there” that I think too many Christians buy into.

While in the entire post, there is not one mention of the United Methodist Church, Kirk’s post is very similar to my own view point I think. Making disciples and teaching all nations are two different things in my opinion. Making disciples lends itself to making them individualistic enterprises, reporting only to Christ. Teaching nations leads to a community built upon Christ. While the Evangelicals move steadily towards individualism, we should move the other way, towards community – towards accountability to one another and to Tradition. We are in Christ, not independent one of another, but together. Wherever we are at, we should teach the nations round us, showing them Christ. Granted, this starts individually, but the ultimate goal is not the individual, but the community.

Anyway… just a thought.

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