The Desire of Ease
“The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.”
--Book of Discipline, ¶120
The Council of Bishops came out of their retreat re-affirming their commitment to the mission statement adopted at the 2008 General Conference.
To fulfill this mission the bishops will create vital congregations.
The 2012 State of the Church report lists the attributes of vital congregations--
»» grow disciples in faith and fruitfulness.
»» involve people in life-giving ministries.
»» engage disciples passionately in seeking
justice and mercy. (Micah 6:8, Luke 4:17-21)
»» give generously to the work of God’s
mission and ministry in the world.
(2 Corinthians 9:10-12)
A vital congregation has:
»» inviting and inspiring worship,
»» disciples engaged in mission and outreach,
»» gifted, equipped and empowered lay
»» effective, equipped and inspired clergy
»» disciple-forming small group ministries, and
»» strong children’s and youth ministry. (p. 4, State of the Church)
The Book of Discipline outline the “process for carrying out our mission”--
¶ 122. The Process for Carrying Out Our Mission—We make disciples as we:
The United Methodist Church has a clearly defined plan. It identifies the goal, lists the steps to be taken to reach that goal, and assigns who will complete these steps. So why isn’t the plan working?
A variety of reasons. Let me test one reason with the blogosphere and see if it resonates with anyone else-- The Desire of Ease.
(The desire of ease is mentioned in Sermon 87 “The Danger of Riches” after the 1 John 2:16 temptations-- desire of the flesh, desire of the eye, and the pride of life.)
The Church succombs to this temptation whenever it makes church programming all about enjoyment. A time to socialize. An opportunity for light entertainment. Creating a relaxed atmosphere. Imagine a community center with fun activities for all age, and you will have a sense of the form that the desire of ease takes today.
The Council of Bishops’ reaffirmation of the mission statement helps me resist this temptation by reassuring me that my ministry priorities are worthwhile and consistent with the direction that our episcopal leaders are moving the denomination.