Thursday, April 23, 2015

Congregational Mission and Connectional Mission

No matter what you might say about their doctrine or polity the Southern Baptists have historically had a strong missional impulse. Despite their congregational nature they found ways to work together for greater impact. This has origin in the 1790's with William Carey and the Baptist Missionary Society. Over time the independent society approach was Americanized and took on denominational form, with the expected theological and doctrinal focus, as the 19th Century Baptist efforts experienced the roller coaster one might expect when you think of the efforts of getting many churches and clergy to work well together (review this if you desire more details in synopsis form).

Still today the SBC continues their "cooperative program" as a way to focus and unify congregational polity churches in mission as they know you can do more as you combine the efforts, prayers, funding, gifts, skills, and involvement of many churches together.

So, even a religious group with congregational polity knew that joining together in consolidated praying, funding, and serving would yield the most results. After all, many can do more than one congregation or a few partners.

Methodists, and United Methodists, both in doctrine and polity, have every reason in the world to work together in a connectional way of ministry and mission.

But, what have we become?

In too many congregations, in too many places, United Methodists have either totally ditched their mission engagement (maybe we are just too institutional, or overly concerned about "our" congregation, or waiting for our congregation to die, or think "mission" isn't our thing?), or if they are active have become independent in mission. How ironic if we "United Methodists" have become congregational! While our interest has been to engage our church members in mission too often we have created a new way of doing mission in smaller ways, with too few partners, and so separate from denominational efforts with sister churches that we've minimized our impact and effectiveness.

More than ever we need to create a strong church/Church with strong missional engagement. We need each other. We need all of our UMC congregations involved in Global Ministries. In that unity and focus we may find a resurrection.

We have that "vehicle" for global mission as our church is on the move in exciting ways. But I find many people just don't know the story, how we need each other, or know the urgency or opportunities available.

60% of Global Ministries is funded by apportionments and the rest through "second mile giving."

More than ever I'm curious how we might work better together as the church for greater impact. I'm interested in going deeper into connectional mission as a way to follow Christ  and love God and love neighbor (nearby & around the world) as I pray, participate, and fund mission.

I want to be part of a great team, and help build that sort of team, and need you and your United Methodist congregation to help create the best days of connectional mission.

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