I offer the above phrase, the motto of the Theological School of Drew University, as my personal mission statement. I am privileged to employ my gifts and talents among the United Methodists on Queen Street in Kinston, North Carolina. As a relative newcomer to the almost century old ministry of this church I am a period of continuous learning about our mission. Currently it is stated as: Being and Making Disciples of Christ in the Heart of Kinston. As I ponder our future together, I am piecing together the original dream for our church – a dream that placed our sanctuary on the outer edge of Kinston in 1911. The strong statement of building the largest sanctuary of any kind east of Raleigh conveys a tremendous vision, a vision that has over the intervening decades faded from view.
In the coming year we will be putting a team together to help us pray through a process of uncovering God’s dream for the people called Methodist on Queen Street. As we do this we will be paying attention to the leading of our Bishop, Al Gwinn, who is inviting every church in our conference to consider becoming an “ACTS 2 Church.” This involves paying special attention to the following: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Spiritual Formation, and Risk-Taking Mission and Ministry to the World. Below is his challenge:
- … by the Annual Conference of 2008 I want us to be able to identify, by name, 200 Acts 2 Churches in this conference! Churches that have all four of these qualities functioning well in the life of the Body. Churches that have decided to reach the lost, the unchurched, the de-churched – to reach children, youth, Hispanics and Latinos – not counting the cost or sacrifice involved.
- Churches that have prayer-based, Spirit-filled, quality worship services. By the way, our 2005 statistics also show that our average Sunday morning worship attendance is down 2,796 persons! That fact should cause us to ask ourselves several serious questions about how we do worship, what we are or are not teaching about commitment and if real relationships actually exist.
- By 2008 we will name 200 churches that are teaching their members to go deeper and not just wider. Churches that are serious about every member being in small groups where they are supported, encouraged and challenged to grow in Christ. Churches that are helping their members understand the gifts of the Spirit and the role of those gifts in building up the Body of Christ. Churches that forge strong, full partnerships between the clergy and laity. Churches that want a leader to equip and empower them and not do their ministry for them. Churches that want to be challenged and not coddled.
- In 2008 we want to name 200 churches that are risk-takers in attacking poverty, seeking justice, caring for the needy – eager to give a hand-up and not just a hand-out.
– Bishop Al Gwinn, The State of the Church Address, Annual Conference 2006
As part of that work I offer the following as areas of emphasis for my ministry:
- Creating a welcoming space and a caring team to work with children and youth;
- Lead us in a disciplined approach to adult spiritual formation that challenges every baptized and professing member to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
- Create a systematic model for reaching out into the community to invite persons into our community of faith and helping them become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
- Continue refining our systems of congregational care to include the formation and training of a new congregational care team.
I challenge our church to remember with Paul that the work of a pastor is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (see Ephesians 4:11). I remain committed to setting each of us free for ministry in this place. I thank God for the way Jacob Mewborn invites God’s Spirit into our worship life together. I give thanks for Teresa Smith and Sandra Thompson for providing valuable assistance to the administrative life of our church. There are numerous saints who offer themselves in powerful ways as we seek “to become all things to all people so that by all means some might be saved” (1 Corinthians 9:22).