Healthy Church Initiative
Healthy Church Initiative
Leading to Healthy Churches
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ is the priority of the Healthy Church Initiative. The ministry needs of the Local Church will be at the center of how we set priorities, plan, and carry out Conference ministry. The Healthy Church Initiative is designed to assist church leaders, clergy and laity, to become more effective in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. The Healthy Church Initiative is also about strengthening the partnership between clergy and laity so that together we can more effectively be a healthy Body of Christ working to transform the world.
In the Healthy Church Initiative, attention is being given to what the Local Churches tell us are needed in terms of resourcing instead of making assumptions about what resources, training events, or workshops would be helpful. For example, an event, workshop, or training must reflect the goals of the Healthy Church Initiative and focus on the following:
- Discover and address the needs of our Local Churches
- Promote relationships between Local Church, District and Conference
- Establish follow-up plans for events
- Resource the Local Churches, District, or Conference in one of the 12 pathways being promoted by the Healthy Church Initiative:
- Train effective Leaders 7. Prayer (Talk with God)
- Hospitality 8. Create Inspiring Worship
- Equip and Send to serve 9. Share Christ
- Grow in Groups 10. Gifts Discovery and use
- Care for Others 11. Stewardship
- Know your Neighborhood 12. Connect with your neighbors
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
The prophet Jeremiah makes it clear that God’s vision and purpose for God’s people is to give us a future and hope. Future and Hope are themes that directly relate to our Conference’s Healthy Church Initiative as well as to the work and ministry of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Our United Methodist Bishops have been discussing seven vision pathways: 1) Teach the Wesleyan way of reaching and making Disciples of Jesus Christ; 2) Strengthen Clergy and Lay Leadership; 3) Transform existing congregations; 4) Develop New Congregations; 5) End racism as we expand racial/ethnic ministry; 6) Eliminate poverty in community with the poor; and 7) Reach and transform the lives of the new generation of Children. These ideas and issues contained in these seven pathways have been captured in four missional initiatives that will be discussed at the meeting of the General Conference in April. These missional initiatives’ are: Leadership Development; New Church Starts; Ministry with the Poor; and Global Health.
The discussion about setting these missional initiatives as priorities for the ministry of the United Methodist Church sets a direction for the future and gives hope. Spiritual, effective Leadership, both lay and clergy, are needed if we are to really make disciples that will transform the world. Spiritual, effective, engaged, passionate leadership is needed to transform our existing congregations into healthier, more vibrant, more relevant communities of faith that will transform the world.
New Church Starts will give opportunities to think about how to do and be the church in different ways. New Church Starts are not a subtraction, something that takes away from our existing churches. New Church Starts are additions, additions that hold the possibility for engaging and inviting people into a personal relationship with Christ in ways that will rock their world. As these persons come into a contagious relationship with Christ they, in turn, will be inspired share their discovery and rock the world of other persons in ways that hold the opportunity of transforming the world.
We have an abundant God, a God who gave, who gives, and who will continue to give abundantly. Why? Why does God bless us? Why, so we can give abundantly to others. God does not mean for any of God’s children to have a meager, measly existence. Ministry to and with the poor means getting to know our neighbors and involves ministry to and with the people in our neighborhoods, both locally and globally. To be a true follower of Christ is to be in ministry with the poor – the financially poor, the materially poor, the physically poor, the poor in Spirit – it is about loving our neighbors as ourselves. And our neighbors, who come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities, races, social status, are our responsibility as the Body of Christ.
The Global Health of our world impacts all of us. As Christians we are called to be good stewards of the world, all it’s resources and all its people. We need to work together to eradicate diseases like Malaria and Aids that destroy God’s people. We are being called to caring, compassionate action. Christ died so that we might ALL, not some, but ALL have life, and have life abundantly.
What kind of hope might God work to bring through the United Methodist Church if we could bring our prayers, presence, gifts, and service to these four missional initiatives? What might the future of the United Methodist Church look like if we could all get behind these four missional initiatives, and prioritize our ministry around these initiatives?
What would happen if our Annual Conference was to Gear Up, to Reach In, Reach Out, and Live In –to being the living, healthy, active, passionate presence of the missional, living Body of Christ? What would happen? Hope would bloom! There would be no fear for the future! There would be no lack of people becoming and desiring to become Disciples of Christ, and, we would, in and through Christ, be transforming the world!