United Methodist Bishops Place Focus on Making Disciples

United Methodist bishops will center their ministries on one primary focus: Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

According to the United Methodist News Service, the bishops concluded their weeklong spring meeting on May 6 in Arlington, Va., with a growing desire to unite under the mission focus.

“I do believe God is doing a new thing among us,” said Bishop Peter Weaver, president of the Bishops’ Council to UMNS.

Weaver explained that the churches in the Boston Area, where he is ministering, wish to reach out to their communities but lack the know-how.

"I’ve been hearing in congregation after congregation the desire to reach out into their communities to make disciples of Jesus Christ, but often they don’t know how to do that,” he said.

“They’re looking for resources and training and examples that they can go and visit. And there are many of those examples among the congregations in our connection, so we need to reconnect congregations that are yearning to make disciples of Jesus Christ in 21st century ways.”

The bishops will act as the connection point for these churches to enter into effective mission.

According to UMNS, the bishops plan this by organizing around three focuses:

--The council’s leadership and teaching roles. The bishops will work with the congregations in their residential areas on carrying out the emphasis.

--The council’s learning role. The bishops agreed they want to be a “learning community,” spending time at council meetings sharing information and best practices with one another.

--The council’s partnership role. The bishops will work with the church’s Connectional Table, seminaries, and boards and agencies as the focus is developed and carried out. Top staff executives of the agencies as well as presidents and deans of the church’s seminaries provided ideas and comments for the bishops as the weeklong meeting got under way.

The three-pronged plan was organized by a team that was headed by Bishop Bruce Ough of the church’s Ohio West Area.

Ough said the bishops will develop a teaching plan for the church with measurable goals that will be provided to help local congregations evangelize.

The plan will also help bring local lay and clergy leaders to the same plane with the bishops by helping people understand what is meant by such terms as “Christian disciple” and “transformation.”

Ultimately, Weaver said he believed a “new spirit of understanding about what making disciples of Jesus Christ means” seemed to embody the gathering.

“And we believe that means persons following Christ in world- and life-changing ways. I think we’ve worked and prayed this week around specifics that will help us serve our churches and conferences in practical ways for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”