The priority of the Methodist Church in Ireland is to shape every Church as a body of the Christ, to participate in God's mission. This means exploring new horizons when we sense God's call to do so by depending on his grace which always goes before us.
WORSHIP - giving together to God
- Worship is more about who God is than about what we do
- It is affirming the worth of God who is “here and there”!
- Theologians describe this as God being
Intimacy and Awe are appropriate responses to the God who is “here and there”.
Jesus said “God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). This means we need to:
- give praise – in heart and voice
- pray – both personally and together
- receive – forgiveness and healing
- learn – instruction from scripture and hearing it as God's Word, it can touch us directly
- respond - by the dedicating our abilities, wealth and love to God
- celebrate Holy Communion. It is the primary place of intimacy and awe where he has promised to meet us
Worshippers should be enabled to participate in all these elements of worship.
WITNESS - giving others the gift of ourselves
What does it include?
- intentionally telling the message of Jesus' love so that others become his followers
- showing his love in acts of selfless service
- working for the welfare of all people
- caring for the earth its people and its resources
The manifesto of Jesus (Luke 4:18-19) includes telling the story of God's love which knows no favouritism and his desire that oppression must end. At the centre is the compassionate act of healing. By placing compassion in the centre, Jesus emphasises that it is central to Christian discipleship. It is only a lifestyle characterised by love that has authority to act for freedom or proclaim salvation.
Jesus recognised not only the needs of the poor but also honoured their dignity when he made sure his missionaries were dependent for food, clothes and shelter from those to whom they were sent. (Matthew 10:10-11.)
To be Christ-like, Christian mission must be humble and dependent on the generosity of those to whom it is offered.
TOWARDS WHOLENESS - by giving together to one another in love
Being a member of the Church is being a body part designed to function. What you DO matters. Others depend on it.
- preachers who elicit responses
- quiet servers who do the right thing at the right time – often unnoticed
- teachers who research and explain the Bible
- encouragers who say timely and helpful things
- the hospitable and generous who answer needs spontaneously
- leaders who organise and manage without causing rancour
- those whose self-effacing compassion advertises the beauty of Christ
Love is the key
“Be devoted to one another with genuine affection. Honour one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10-11)
There is no such person as the omni-competent minister. God has made sure of that! It is helpful to think of the ministry of Jesus. When he left his disciples, it would have been impossible for a single one to continue his ministry. SO... he gave them his Spirit, TO DO IT TOGETHER! In Ephesians (4:11) these are called the fivefold ministries of Christ. Leaders, each with a different gift, work in harmony to prepare the Church for the work of ministry to God’s world.
Every leader, ordained or not, is a helper, using her/his particular gifts to prompt and enable the whole mission of God. It is also spiritually unhealthy (and unbiblical!) for a local Church to become attached to one person's ministry.
Ministers as Members of a Team
The Methodist Church in Ireland wants to move towards team ministry so that the Body of Christ can be more effective in God’s mission. This would not mean an ordained person will no longer have responsibility for a particular congregation. It does mean that enabling the congregation for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4) will be the task of several people.
Just as a Health Care Team brings different disciplines to a health care package, yet the patient has an identified team member, so with Church ministry – each congregation will have an identified servant leader and receive support from others.
- this is not about withdrawal or saving money or downsizing
- this is about opening ourselves to God's mission in God's power
- the Holy Spirit comes to empower people when they are together