By Walter B. Fenton
Since the launch of the Global Methodist Church its Transitional Leadership Council (TLC) has, on a regular basis, joyfully received local churches into the new denomination. Sometimes the Council has received as few as five and sometimes as many as 24 congregations into membership. They are scattered around the world, many in Bulgaria, some in the Philippines, and some in the U.S. As local churches continue to move through the various disaffiliation processes mandated by The United Methodist Church’s annual conferences the TLC anticipates it will continue to welcome waves of congregations over the next two to three years.
Here are seven things we Global Methodists can be doing in the early days of our formation.
Pray for each other; pray for the members of the TLC; and pray for the GM Church’s staff members. Also, pray fervently for brothers and sisters in local churches that are doing all they can to join us. Local churches trying to find their way to the Global Methodist Church must make major decisions regarding financial obligations, property and assets, and holding their congregations together as they navigate their way to us.
Offer assistance to those local churches that are exploring the disaffiliation process or are in the midst of it. Some congregations are well informed, while others are only recently becoming acquainted with disaffiliating from the UM Church and joining the GM Church. Carefully and graciously offer to assist them, and then wait to respond accordingly.
Explore the possibility of planting a new church. The GM Church is committed to local church multiplication so more people will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to be a movement willing to move forward in faith, trusting the Holy Spirit will empower us when our visions are daring and costly. Also, assist people who have parted ways with their local UM churches as they seek to plant and establish new Global Methodist congregations in their communities. We should remember that the great majority of local churches down through ages were founded when two or three gathered in the name of Jesus Christ.
Tithe and give generously to your local GM church and to the general church. These are challenging financial times for people everywhere, so doing all you can to support your local church is a first priority. The TLC is also mindful that many local GM churches are settling major financial obligations connected to the terms of their disaffiliation agreements. Consequently, the TLC is waiving connectional funding obligations during this transitional period when local churches apply for such a waiver. For local churches not facing financial stress, do what you can to support the general church to help it grow and flourish, and encourage individuals with the means to make above and beyond gifts to support the mission and ministry of the GM Church.
Acquaint your congregation with the connectional nature of the GM Church. As a denomination proudly standing in the Wesleyan tradition, we believe connectionalism is essential to our mission. If we are, as John Wesley put it, called to “spread Scriptural holiness across the land,” we must nurture strong bonds of unity so we can reach the lost with the transforming power of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. Help the people in your local church understand how effective and fruitful the church can be when we are connected and working together to share the Gospel with our words and by our deeds.
Organize and meet together with local congregations near you that have already become part of the GM Church and those that intend to do so. Gather together to worship, to pray, and to explore ways you can organize to be a healthy branch of producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Remind one another that we are in this new venture together, and that we are sowing seeds for a faithful future that bears the fruit of God’s kingdom.
Finally, live into our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly. Our world is always in a state of turmoil, but it seems more so in recent days. It is in times like this that the church must do all it can to help those who are suffering and carrying heavy burdens. It is our calling to lead people to the sure hope we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. So, with a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on, and with Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, let us endeavor to run with perseverance the race before us (Hebrews 12.1-2). Let us be Christ’s church in the world!
You can learn more about the Global Methodist Church by exploring its website.
The Rev. Walter Fenton is Global Methodist Church’s Deputy Connectional Officer.