The Mission of the Church is to SERVE
I have been involved in a number of conversations of late about the structure of the United Methodist Church, especially as the local church relates to the Conference and General Church.
One of the primary concerns raised time and again is that the Local Church is the Basic Unit of Instruction for this to take place. The Discipline has this to say in ¶ 120. “The Mission—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.”
The Mission Statement of St. Andrew UMC offers this understanding, “To serve God by sharing, teaching and living the Word”.
The United Methodist Church is currently working through a structural change as outlined in the Call to Action Report, which can be found online here: http://www.umc.org/calltoaction.
The California-Pacific Annual Conference is also undergoing several changes to the structure, including the organization of committees, the number and size of Districts, as well as local Mission Areas.
With all the changes proposed to the District, Conference and General Church, a number of people around me are asking questions about what the actual purpose of a church is. This is especially heightened when finances are tight, as they are now, in local churches, right on up to the General Church. I have mentioned lately in my sermons that we need to consider this same question for St. Andrew UMC.
Ultimately, Jesus Christ gave us a fairly direct answer. Matthew 28:19-20 says this: “Therefore go 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 I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We, the church, local, and national need to get out of ourselves. We need to care more about the people who aren’t in the pews of ANY church, than we do about ourselves, and the survival of our institutions. The balance we strive for is to maintain enough institution to provide for the needs of others as a collective service agency, such as a preschool, a food pantry, disability closet, international missionary or other avenue of service, while also coordinating the efforts of the greatest resources available to any church or organization, the people who are there. We come to serve – our God and our neighbor.