Friday, July 24, 2020

Recommended Readings: The Methodist Church in Great Britain Restructures for Evangelism

At the beginning of this month, the Methodist Church in Great Britain made a significant decision at its yearly Conference meeting. The church voted (online) for a dramatic, ambitious, and sweeping set of changes to the church for the sake of freeing and focusing the church on evangelism and mission. The votes, prompted by a report entitled God for All: The Connexional strategy for evangelism and growth, will simplify church structures to ease decision-making and allow significant resources to be shifted to support a focus on five areas of new initiatives: New Places for New People: Church at the Margins; Every Church a Growing Church; Young Evangelists, Pioneers, and Leaders; and Digital Presence: Mission for the digital age.

Readers can find out more about these shifts from the UK-based Church Times, from two stories from the MCGB itself, and from a write-up (in German) by the Swiss UMC.

For readers in the United States, one interesting feature of the MCGB's move is that it comes in the middle of, but is mostly unconnected to, a process of discerning the church's stance on same-sex marriages and LGBTQ ordination. In the US, it is common for Methodists on both sides of those issues to see their resolution as critical to the church's evangelistic success, but the MCGB apparently does not regard clarity on those issues as intrinsic to the process of reorienting the denomination toward mission, evangelism, and membership growth. It has, however, prioritized work with those at the margins, including the economically poor.

The MCGB has indicated that they expect this initiative to take at least five years to begin to bear fruit. While we may have to wait to see the results, I (David) pray that God may bless the MCGB as they strive to be faithful to the call to share the gospel.

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