By Keith Boyette
Over my years of ministry, I have marked each new year by participating in Wesley’s Covenant Service. During the service, the congregation is invited to pray:
Lord, make me what you will.
I put myself fully into your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart
give it all to your pleasure and disposal.
Embracing the prayer is always a sobering experience for me. I do desire to be totally submitted to God’s plan, purpose, and will, but the juxtaposition in the prayer is stark. Am I really OK if I suffer, am laid aside, empty, and have nothing? Yet, I still pray the prayer with sincerity, authenticity, and transparency because I am not my own. My life is a gift from God. I belong unequivocally to Him. By God’s grace, I want to be totally surrendered to Him so that He can do with me as He pleases for His glory and the advance of His kingdom.
Over the years, I have found that it is not sufficient to just say the prayer at the new year. It has become part of my regular devotional life. It never loses its power. The prayer has had special meaning and significance to me since we launched the Global Methodist Church on May 1, 2022. I have been acutely aware that the work in which we are engaged does not belong to us and is not brought to fruition by us.
No one can doubt that the powerful hand of our God has been upon the GM Church. Who would have anticipated that as 2023 closed we would have received 4,281 churches with more than 700 additional congregations having applied and awaiting approval or that 4,400 clergy persons would have aligned with the GM Church with more than 800 additional clergy awaiting acceptance? Who would have predicted that we would have established 16 regional bodies in the U.S. and that three more would continue to organize in this new year or that, outside the U.S., we would have established eight regional bodies and be about to launch an additional 15? In the midst of such work, who would have expected that that we would be preparing for our convening General Conference in Costa Rica, September 20-26, 2024? Yet this and so much more has occurred with an incredibly lean general church staff consisting of 12 employees and two bishops. Literally thousands of persons, lay and clergy, have given sacrificially to work in often unseen ways to be instruments of the Holy Spirit to bring all of this to pass.
As much as we celebrate what has already been accomplished, I am energized by what lies ahead in 2024. While we will still receive churches and clergy aligning with the GM Church, our work will focus on turning our attention unreservedly to the new thing God is doing in our midst.
Many faithful people have devoted tremendous resources and energy transitioning into the GM Church. Now is the time to shift our focus to the mission fields into which God has called our congregations. As each congregation unreservedly surrenders to God’s purposes, how will we reach those who have not heard the Gospel or who have not responded to God’s invitation to new life? Will we ensure that our time and financial resources are increasingly expended so that we are blessing those who are just awakening to the possibility of salvation and sanctification?
From our posture of surrender to God, will we embrace the new mission fields and people to which He is calling us? What will we do to advance the mission of the GM Church – to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly? How will we do so in our unique settings? Will we, as leaders and churches, follow Jesus as He leads us to fulfill our missional priorities:
- To ensure that every professing member is grounded in the Scriptures and the life giving confessions that are hallmarks of our faith;
- To connect every person associated with our local churches to a band, class meeting, or other transformational discipleship group where we are challenged to experience the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit;
- To multiply as we launch new churches and new opportunities for those who have not yet been reached with the Gospel;
- To expand our partnerships globally so that the blessings which exist in each part of the body of Christ can enrich other parts and we discover the beauty of a church where every nation, tribe, and tongue are honored and embraced; and
- To minister intentionally to persons who are marginalized and often overlooked, but who are loved by Jesus and who have gifts that God wishes to deploy?
Divisions abound in this world, but God is calling us to be a distinctive people – “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9.
Each new year has the potential to be a new beginning. We shed the old and embrace the new. Join me as we humbly surrender to our God: “I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your pleasure and disposal.”
Rev. Keith Boyette is the Transitional Connectional Officer of the Global Methodist Church – its chief executive and administrative officer. To learn more about the Global Methodist Church, visit its website at www.globalmethodist.org.