Transform Your Church with Three Pathways

Bishop Paul L. Leeland


(Bishop Paul L. Leeland) Holiness of heart. Holiness of life. These are the expressions of God’s Spirit at work within us. What often escapes our attention is the simple way in which this process of molding our hearts and lives into the image of Jesus takes place. While this is clearly the work of God, it often takes place in the local church. The church is our spiritual director, reminding us through the people of God, where to place our attention, energy and resources. Spiritual growth rarely takes place in a vacuum. More likely, it is shaped by those who have immersed themselves into the means or channels of God’s grace - prayer, scripture, worship, sacraments, and small groups - where we watch over one another in love. These are the traditional means by which God begins to shape us into the image of Christ.

The district that your local church is a part of  is caught up in a movement. And, this movement is being led by the laity and clergy of your district leadership teams. It is clear they want to create a shift away from preoccupation about what your local church might look like in the future toward a high expectation that God has a dream for your church. Yes, it’s subtle, but the change is away from what we want, to what God wants, and our willingness to be fully surrendered to God’s will.
While there are many ways of entering into this conversation, what your district leadership team is proposing – the way they are leading – is to have every local church do three things this year: To create a common language that reflects how we live our Christian faith; to embrace our baptism by living out our Christian vows of prayer, presence, gifts, service and witness within the church community; and to surrender ourselves to the Great Commission of making new disciples of Jesus Christ.
Now, what does that look like? All leaders within every local church are invited to read “Three Simple Rules” a Wesleyan way of living, written by Bishop Rueben Job. These three simple rules were written by John Wesley to guide the Methodist people in practical ways of living their faith and appear in our Book of Discipline to this day. Bishop Job brings them to our attention and helps us to reflect on their practical application within our lives today.
Second, each local church is invited to use a celebrated stewardship resource for churches of all sizes written by Dr. John Ed Mathison, “Transformed Giving.” This is more than a traditional stewardship resource because it is about people. It’s about how to live out our baptismal vows in the presence of the larger community. In truth, it’s about transformed living.
Finally, during the 2010 year, each local church is invited to introduce the Alpha program as an introduction to the Christian life. More importantly, it is an invitation to invite those who are not a part of the Christian community to seriously consider what it means to be a Christian in today’s world. An introduction to this material and guidance to use it in the local church is being organized in every district.
That’s it. This is an amazing effort directed by your district leadership team to invite every local church to do these three things: Have your leaders read Three Simple Rules by Rueben Job; live out your baptismal vows of prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness by using Transformed Giving written by John Ed Mathison; and begin using the Alpha program to introduce people to the Christian faith.
What is amazing about this movement is that your district is doing the same thing the district beside you is doing. Every district leadership team has embraced this movement to link our congregations and begin this process immediately in order to create a common language, to live out our baptismal vows and introduce others to Jesus.
The greatest contribution to our churches will be a ministry guided and implemented by the spiritual gifts of our laity, bringing transformation and sanctification to our local church, our district and the larger church. Now that’s exciting!