Appalachian District Pathways to Vitality
Vitality ~ “the state of being strong; the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things.” As Christ’s body, the church, our mission and vision ideally is nested within the great commission of Jesus from Matthew 28:18-20, to make disciples from among all people and to minister to all people as to Jesus. Matthew 25:31-46
The United Methodist Church mission statement: “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. (¶120 of The Book of Discipline)
The Western North Carolina Annual Conference mission statement: “Follow Jesus, Make Disciples, Transform the World”
As United Methodist Christians, living into our mission statement requires us to ask how we are doing at making disciples in our own congregations and equipping them in their journey of deep and faithful discipleship. Vital congregations have in place the ministries that foster spiritual growth and prepare them for ministry out in the world.
Vitality is focused on every member in ministry, equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit. “We must help our congregations claim that “we may do different things to make a living, but we all have the same vocation, or calling, which is to use our talents, abilities, interests, personality, and experience to follow Jesus his Body, the Church, and to join with Jesus in his ongoing other-serving ministry in our community and the world.” P.E.G.S. pg. 7
Church vitality is about allowing our mission and vision to be that of Shalom. This is the standard of peace and wholeness set through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Our task, equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit, is to reach people for the building of God’s Kingdom here on earth. If we are to live into the mission and vision to which God has called us, we no longer focus on saving our church facilities but saving lives through sharing the transforming love of Jesus Christ for all people.
Vitality is about building authentic relationships within the context of your community. It is about listening, building trust, and invitation. It is about equipping your congregation to tell their story and help them make the connections to THE STORY, God’s story. It is about faith sharing—sharing with others the difference our relationship with Christ and with the faith community has made in our lives.
Vitality is missional, invitational and attractional. For too long we have relied upon attractional models of ministry only - the build it and they will come mindset. This model of ministry alone is no longer as effective as it once was in reaching people for Christ. It is only a first step in making life-long followers of Jesus.
We have to ask ourselves: Are we preparing and equipping our congregations for a lifelong commitment of following Jesus? Does our church have the ministries in place to foster deep discipleship? Are we more focused on the internal affairs of the church instead of being outwardly focused ~ otherness?
Let’s keep our focus on whom, where, and how God is calling us to be the church in the community and the world.
If your church would like to have a deeper conversation on the best ways to bring vitality to your church and how to reach more people for Christ, immediately contact your Appalachian District Church Vitality Strategist, Rev. Gloria G. Hughes at: email@example.com