By Keith Boyette
This past Saturday, 82 churches in the Central Texas Conference completed the process of withdrawing from The United Methodist Church. Seventy-two of them have aligned with the Global Methodist Church. They join others from Bulgaria, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and the Philippines as member congregations of a church singularly focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly.
These congregations, and thousands of others that are in the process of withdrawing, are turning a new leaf. Having expended significant energy and resources to join the GM Church, they now must shift their focus to new opportunities and possibilities. Our prayer is that they will not dwell on what is past but embrace what is new.
As Global Methodist local churches live into the reality of a new day, we must all embrace God’s call to reach our mission field – beginning in our own communities and also to the ends of the earth. At its core, the GM Church is rooted in our commitment to the historic Christian faith in the Wesleyan tradition. This is a commitment of both heart and mind.
Congregations of the GM Church are challenged, as a top priority, to ensure leaders and members know the church’s core beliefs, embrace them, and joyfully share them with others. The catechism of the GM Church introduces these essentials. We urge every church to preach and teach these core confessions continually.
Regrettably, we live in a season where “shallow” Christianity has led to increasing accommodation with the culture around us. Yet we are called to be a distinctive, even peculiar people. Let’s ensure that each member, leader, and pastor knows and lives out the fullness of the faith we profess. Are we convinced of the necessity of faith in Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life? Are we convicted that we and our neighbors are without hope and dead in our sins if we do not have faith in Jesus and His sacrifice for us on the cross? Are we desperate for God’s transforming power to refine our character so that we increasingly conform to the character of Jesus?
Deeply grounded in the truths of our faith, our congregations must call our members into community – consistent, intentional small groups – where we are discipled in the faith, shaped in Christian character, and become fully devoted to Jesus. Our churches do not need new programs – we need life-to-life sharing where we encounter Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and where we experience the grace of God to set us apart as Christ followers. Every congregation needs a well-developed process where people encounter the transforming power of God and are graciously held accountable by one another to our high calling.
The good news we have received cannot be hidden within our churches’ walls. The gospel is not ours to possess. We are called to tell the story of God’s love in Jesus Christ far and wide and demonstrate the night-and-day difference Jesus has made in our lives. Congregations of the GM Church must literally and figuratively leave the building. How is your church responding to God’s commandment to “be fruitful and multiply?” We must continually push beyond our comfort zones to share Jesus with all who are ambivalent, uninformed, lost, or hurting.
Rather than focusing on ourselves, we must celebrate that God has blessed us so we can bless others. Those around us should wonder about the source of our joy, purpose, and strength. As we live into the new possibilities of the GM Church, is your congregation committed to being a multiplying community where disciples make disciples who make more disciples; leaders raise up leaders who raise up more leaders; and churches plant churches that plant even more churches? How can your congregation reach those who are lost with the good news Jesus Christ?
The Christian faith is an other-oriented faith. We are to die to self so we can be alive in Jesus! True Christ-followers don’t ask, “What’s in it for me?” They ask, “How can I pour into the lives of others the amazing, inexhaustible love of God?”
Jesus has new wine that He desires to impart to us. As each congregation becomes part of the Global Methodist Church, let’s also receive the new wineskins He has prepared. And then, like him, joyfully pour out our lives for the sake of others.
The Rev. Keith Boyette is the Transitional Connectional Officer of the Global Methodist Church, its chief executive and administrative officer.