Living in the Will of God
We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer... Commit your actions to the Lord and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:1, 3
Twenty-twenty-two has been a year where the people called Methodists have had to discern where God is calling them to be. Some have felt called to disaffiliate from the UMC and join the GMC, while others disaffiliated and went independent. And some believed they were just where God wanted them within the UMC. Inaction in the UMC can no longer be a choice, we must step out in the will of God and commit our actions to him.
How do you know what God's plans are? That's a tough question. The methods by which people discern God's will in their lives are as varied as the decisions that are made. Since I found myself unemployed last July, I have been seeking God's will in many ways. The first thing I did was create this blog. My hope was that my posts there would inspire conversations amongst others who were seeking God's will and planning for the future. Unfortunately, the discussions have not been forthcoming.
While posting regularly, I have also sought God's will in my daily prayers. I have come to the realization that for the church to continue in the United States, it would have to look different than it does now. I have written about my vision for the 21st Century church, and I continue to seek God's vision for the church. I have prayed, asked him questions, listened to his answers, and talked with others.
Two things stand out every time. First, the 21st Century church must be a church of prayer. Jesus said, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer..." Matt. 21:13. Prayer has to be a very visible part of any church that wants to grow healthy and effective. We can no longer put prayer in the background to do after we have exhausted all other ministries and missions. Jim Cymbala, writes, "No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer."
The second concept that continues to float before me is the need for discipleship in the church. Jesus tells us before he leaves the earth that we are to "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations..." Matt. 28:19. I haven't seen a lot of discipling in our churches today. Our focus seems to be on teaching the Bible, rather than living the Bible. People need to live out what they learn while reading the scriptures, not just know what the good book says.
Discipleship needs to be taught, then done. It takes a much greater commitment than simply attending worship on Sunday mornings. Methodism saw the greatest growth in its history through discipleship groups known as the Class Meeting. I wrote about that in an earlier post. After six months of prayer, I feel confident that God is calling me to a ministry teaching discipleship to churches.
I don't know exactly what this ministry will look like, I am still discerning how to put into practice what my heart has been telling me for a while now. If you or your church would like to become better disciples, please comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am anxious to see how we can lead the church in the 21st century.