By Rev. Daniel R. Morley, North District Superintendent, and Missional Strategist
I am now on the road from church to church across our North District as our Church Conference season begins. So, an obvious question is — Why do we conference?
Let us begin with our mission — to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches and extension ministries of the Church provide the most significant arenas through which disciple-making occurs (UMC BoD Par 120).
And then follow that up with Paragraph 122 — We make disciples as we:
- proclaim the gospel, seek, welcome and gather persons into the body of Christ;
- lead persons to commit their lives to God through baptism by water and the spirit and profession of faith in Jesus Christ;
- nurture persons in Christian living through worship, the sacraments, spiritual disciplines, and other means of grace, such as Wesley’s Christian conferencing;
- send persons into the world to live lovingly and justly as servants of Christ by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the stranger, freeing the oppressed, being and becoming a compassionate, caring presence, and working to develop social structures that are consistent with the gospel; and
- continue the mission of seeking, welcoming and gathering persons into the community of the body of Christ.
Note the third point on “nurture persons in Christian living.” It is here we read that Christian Conferencing is a means of grace. Rev Kevin Watson (assistant professor at Seattle Pacific University) describes Conferencing like this — “It is the distinctive way that Methodists gather together to talk about their relationship with God in order to grow in love for God and neighbor.”
The Church Conference is not simply a matter of business, it is being church…it is about focusing on vital and effective means of grace as we seek to make disciples. Conferencing in the United Methodist way is about being in relationship with God, with each other, and with our neighbor.
You may have already viewed this short video from seeallthepeople.org, but it is worth viewing again… What is “See All The People”? Watch!
I invite and encourage you to attend your annual Church Conference in which we will be having conversations about the key points of vitality in our ministry of making disciples of Jesus Christ. Call your church office to find out the day and time.
I look forward to conferencing with you as we connect across the miles.
Blessings in Christ,