A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Final Day - Wesleyan Institute

The Wesleyan Institute concluded at noon today. Here are some highlights from today's final sessions:

Sandra King Shaw

Sandra is a layperson at Asbury UMC, an historically black congregation in the D.C. area. Sandra spoke about the exciting outreach ministries her church is doing to transform lives, offer hope, and make disciples of Jesus Christ. They have a feeding program that is making a huge difference in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Sandra is one of those speakers who after hearing her, you just want to go out immediately and take risks for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Her church is heavily involved in "Covenant Discipleship" groups which was part of the presentation at this week's institute. Covenant Discipleship groups do the following: 1) Meet weekly for one hour. 2) The group and the individuals write out covenant clauses in which they hold each other accountable by sharing how they are doing at their weekly meetings. 3) They serve in the life of the congregation with their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness (the living out of the United Methodist membership vows.)

Pastor Terry Heck & Closing Worship

Terry preached for our closing worship service today and talked about the vine and branches scripture from the Gospel of John. Her point was that we need to be connected to Christ and to one another if we want to be the dedicated disciples of Christ we are called to be. We need each other to find our way home to God.

Each of the small groups that met during the institute brought to the altar their covenants stating how we will take what we've learned these past three days and apply it in our local church settings. The service ended with the sharing in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

My Personal Reflections

I love attending Wesleyan Institutes! This one was no different. And what a joy to see our church and our Common Cup ministry offer radical hospitality these three days. Great job, Faith Community and Common Cup!

One of my goals as a result of this institute is to get back to the basics in what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Wesley encouraged the early Methodists to be involved in the means of grace like Holy Communion, worship, bible study, outreach, caring ministries, as a way to help us become more like Christ.

Everything our church and Common Cup ministries do should help us with our main mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The General Board of Discipleship of the UMC has incredible resources to help local churches to stick to this primary mission.

The point isn't that we totally replicate what the Wesley's did in 18th century England. The point is that we are to use the foundational biblical means of grace in our day and age to reach new generations of people with the love of Jesus Christ. It's all about love.

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