One of the goals in the mission of the church is changing behavior.
Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Making a disciple of Jesus Christ means that one wasn’t before. It also means that there is something that sets apart a disciple of Jesus Christ from someone who is not.
Sometimes the change in behavior comes before a change in heart. For example, a neighbor who gives to a neighborhood food drive before ever being present with the church who organized the event.
Sometimes change in heart comes before a change in behavior. For example, an individual who responds to an evangelistic event at the local park and seeks out connection with a local church.
No matter what one’s spiritual development looks like, there will always be a change in behavior.
“But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18, TNIV).
1. We accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for.
2. Each and every one of us is creating the future, every day, whether we do so consciously or not.
3. Everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent, whether we acknowledge that or not.
4. “Being the change we want to see” means walking the talk of our values.
5. Strength builds upon our strengths, not our weaknesses.
6. Individuals will go where systems lead them.
While these principles were not primarily designed for religious organizations, I believe that there are clear correlations to the United Methodist Church. My response to each of the above principles in light of The United Methodist Church:
Whether it is worship attendance, budget, baptisms, confirmation, small groups or some other metric, whatever one measures in the local church becomes that around which efforts focus for continued development. Ultimately we should be holding ourselves accountable to the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Each person that is part of any United Methodist congregation has influence in the future of the denomination. While the official decisions from General Conference prove influential on a macro scale, the experience and sharing of any local community shapes the understanding of the entire denomination for that area. For example, a church that is thriving and individuals are sharing good news with their neighbors will create a future for the denomination in that area that is positive. In the aggregate, the denomination is shaped.
Related to point 2, the joys and concerns are shared. As in the body of Christ, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
If one hopes to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, one must live as a disciple of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
This is true for the UMC as for nearly any organization.
There is an interesting connection between individuals and systems. In connection with point 2, individuals can influence a system, however ultimately it is most likely that someone will guide others in the way that they have been guided.
What are your thoughts, feelings or opinions about all this?
Nicole and I recently purchased a dehumidifier for our basement. After it’s arrival, I set it up, plugged it in and turned it on. When I checked on it the next day, the water reservoir was full and the atmosphere was noticeably different. I knew that it needed to be dehumidified, but was still surprised at the tangible difference that I felt when I walked back downstairs.
The dehumidifier changed the atmosphere.
I believe that one of the key roles of a pastor is creating an atmosphere in within a local church in which disciples are formed.
There are many actions that could contribute to a change in the atmosphere and one of the most significant is tending to my own spiritual formation. If my soul is not thriving, it is difficult for me to lead others in their journey of faith in a way that can be used by the Holy Spirit to produce fruit.
What are other ways that the atmosphere might be changed in a local church?
I received Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, by Karen Saclf Linamen with a slight hesitancy. I thought that this book would be only for women and I would struggle moving through it from beginning to end. I was wrong.
Linamen provides solid advice about life change that is written in a light hearted and fun way. It is directed toward women, but I found it to be helpful for me (as a man) as well.
This is a book that I will keep on my shelf and likely refer to and suggest for others. I recommend it for any woman considering making changes in her life (and guys too). You can purchase it at Amazon with this link - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400074002