Tell us about: The Church

You will find and introduction to my BOM theological paperwork here: Doctrinal Exam

¶324.9.i:  Describe the nature and mission of the Church. What are its primary tasks today?

When I first started writing the answer to the nature and mission of the Church, I thought my answer would be “a light on a hill,” a beacon so everyone in the dark can see the way, something for people to look towards in their time of suffering and trials. After prayer and reflection, I think this is answer falls very short of what God calls us to be in the world. The church is the hope in the midst of darkness, a light that destroys darkness wherever we find it, not a beacon standing on a hill, somewhere outside the darkness.

According to the Book of Discipline, the church does three things, “Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit the church seeks to provide for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers, and the redemption of the world.”[1]  First, the church provides for the maintenance of worship. It creates a space where the “real” world breaks into our broken, ordinary world. It points toward God with unusual rituals that do not make any sense: a piece of bread to little to nourish our bodies, a cup of juice, a few drops of water, a prayer, a place to give to people that have less, a place we call a stranger “sister” or “brother.” Worship is the place the church tells the broken world that it has not won. Worship is also the place where believers find nourishment, along with the ordinary means of grace, spiritual disciplines, and “other means of grace, such as Wesley’s Christian conferencing.”[2]

Second, the church edifies believers. Sanctifying grace draws us toward the gift of Christian perfection and toward continued growth; throughout our lives, we learn how to love and be loved. The church, working with the Holy Spirit, is called to “encourage people to grow in the knowledge and love of God through the personal and corporate disciplines of the Christian life.”[3] The church seeks to provide a place for people to grow in the love of Christ and neighbor. Finally, with the Holy Spirit the church seeks to redeem the world. The United Methodist Church is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The edification of believers and personal salvation “always involves Christian mission and service to the world.”[4]

After about a year-and-a-half in the church, I felt a call into missions. It was a message of “you have been fed, now go feed.” I came into the church with a starving soul and the church did an amazing job of feeding my soul through Bible study, prayer, community, and worship. At some point, I was no longer starving and my focus turned towards others. I believe a heart fed, a soul that is loved, is drawn beyond the walls of the church to the redemption of God’s creation. The church feeds people so they can feed others wherever they go. The church shows up in the darkness…in places of oppression, injustice, suffering, and pain, the church shows up. This is the mission of the church: to seek out darkness and walk alongside those it finds there. The church provides a place to see that God’s reality is surprising through worship; it grows people in love, by feeding the bodies, souls, and minds of all it comes in contact with; and it shows up in the darkness, wherever the darkness appears.

[1] BOD, Part I Preamble

[2] BOD, ¶122

[3] Our Distinctive Heritage as United Methodists, Part III, ¶102. Section I

[4] Our Distinctive Heritage as United Methodists, Part III, ¶102. Section I

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