Call to Discipleship

Note: Ministry area leaders are to meet in retreat on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 2 p.m. to continue exploring how First United Methodist Church can be deliberate about being disciples. What for information on the location, which is to be deter-mined. If you feel moved to be part of this retreat contact Pastor Alecia or co-lay leaders Dave Jansen and Lyle Muller.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Thus, The Bible tells us at the start of Acts 2, disciples are called by God to do great things in a big world, even though they are frightened by the prospect, their fears flamed in part by what they just had experienced. As we gear up for the start of another busy time at First United Methodist Church we are called once again to move closer to the kind of discipleship that enables us to live our church’s mission statement: Follow, and invite others to follow Jesus Christ.

Expect to hear much about this in the coming year. As a church we want to get so close to our mission statement that we can embrace it with confidence that God is pleased.

Each member of our congregation who leads a ministry has committed to doing this. You have heard references to this in the past year. Church leadership has been engaged in a series of retreats that have focused on discipleship, and has reported the results previously.

This is your invitation to be part of this amazing journey, for we are called, are building and are being sent into our community already in so many ways.

We are called when we hear the many needs of people in our community. We are open to the work the Holy Spirit does in us. We invite others to follow Jesus, and not just to our church. And when new people enter our doors we learn from them about the Holy Spirit.

We spread God’s word through actions – you can name them yourselves – and look forward to more. Why? Because we have shown that we are willing to trust God to meet our needs.

The idea behind this calling is to help us to see and understand others, with Jesus – someone who went to the temple, parties, all sorts of public gatherings. Is this who we are as a church or individuals. Are we are Christians? Are willing to be as Jesus?

We are building as we develop and reach out like a solid oak does when extending its roots and branches. The Great Commission has led us to open up to what God wants from the gifts we use in the community. And we pray. God knows, we pray.

We are welcoming but imperfect; yes, we sometimes neglect and overlook some of the needs around us but are hungry for more of God, and we trust Him to lead us. We are broken people but okay with that because we accept grace and God’s wisdom. We offer our services, our skills, abilities and resources to our church and community.

We pray, preach and teach and in diverse ways. Some are willing to lay hands, others not. Some are linear thinkers, some drop what they are doing and go with where the Spirit takes them at the moment. Does the word evangelistconverterators exist? We don’t think so but some of us are that kind of person, so we made up the word. You know who you are.

We evangelize when we tell others about God in a variety of ways. We want to move to a new level without neglecting those who feel they have been invisible in our church. We want to reach out to those who feel overlooked. We are intentional about being advocates and deepening our own faith and spending time with God.

Our church leadership strives to be more accountable to each other and our congregation. As this happens we want to make sure we are making disciples, not just church members, as we demonstrate faith in our deeds, keep God present in ministries, deconstruct injustice, mentor others, and welcome and genuinely care for our community.

We are being sent when we move to the big question before us as a United Methodist Church in North Liberty, Iowa, in the fall of 2013 and beyond:

What do we do now?

Ministry leaders in our church are taking these examples of being called and building on our faith to all of the church’s teams and small groups. So many questions exist and all of us, as a full congregation, are being asked to answer the following personal questions:

How do you feel called to follow, and invite others to follow Jesus Christ. How are you building on that? What do you expect from this journey? What are your guiding principles as you live it, and do they tie into our mission statement? What does it mean to you to be a disciple, to re-commit to Jesus? And, finally, are you making disciples?

Ministry leaders are framing the things they do in the church with our mission statement and asking beyond our church walls: Do you see us as Christians? Do we accept God’s grace and, as important, spread that grace to you?

This is the path First United Methodist Church is on. Accept this open invitation to be part of the journey. The disciples in Acts did and accomplished great things.

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