Good morning God,
Is there really such a thing as 'general' Christianity?
I ask because I find myself increasingly wondering whether or not you approve of British Methodism's concerted attempt to do away with what once made it so distinctive. After all, it was you who gave us the desire to be far more interested in the growth of disciples than in the growth of our denomination, but it used to be that these things worked together for good - as we responded to our particular calling so we made disciples who wanted to grow in grace and holiness.
Methodists were evangelists because they wanted to share the doctrine of grace that you had revealed to them. They reached out to others because you gave them a passion for social justice combined with holiness and the knowledge that these things really could transform communities as well as individuals.
The resources which you gave us to further this work were spent in spreading scriptural holiness across the land - and - yes - combating the many heresies of the ages. It was sometimes every bit as important to declare what we did NOT believe in as well as what we did. And there was once a sense of purpose that was fed by the knowledge that we belonged to something that was bigger than we were, we were a part of your plan for salvation for the world.
We didn't need to beat the drum about who we were, but we were known for what we believed in, for what we held precious and what we were trying to achieve. We were different from the parish church, not just because of the shape of our buildings, but because of what we did - how we lived as mission minded gospel people.
There was no 'golden age' of Methodism I know, but there was a time when being a Methodist mean more than worshipping at a chapel rather than a church, it was a commitment to a way of life and to mission which is continuing to transform the world - except here in the UK.
I support the call for pioneer mission leaders, and believe that it will be Connexional Money well spent to recruit from amongst our numbers Pioneer Leaders who would (in a more modern way) repeat the work of the Wesley's and the Holy Club and reach out to the unchurched - and try to seed a whole new generation with the gospel of Grace..
But I am distressed to discover - once again - that there is no specific requirement for the Pioneer Mission Leaders we are currently advertising for to be Methodists.. it is expected that applicants will usually have been a member of the Methodist Church for at least two years, but the bottom line is that they simply need to be:
Able to embrace fully and advocate the ethos of the Methodist Church as expressed through Our Calling and Priorities for the Methodist Church
I KNOW that there are many many Methodists who are capable of being nurtured, trained and matured as Methodist Pioneer Mission Leaders. But I am not so confident that they will be given the opportunity to do so in a Church which does not seem to place greater value on the fact that they are Methodists! Will it be the case in this recruitment, as in the recruitment of the new Connexional team, only 2/5th of the Pioneer Mission Leaders will end up being active members of the Methodist Church?
And should it matter? This is the real question for me - should it matter - what are we responding to in this initiative - is this a valid response to our calling?
Help me out here God, after all, my love of the Methodist Church was a gift to me from you,
Should I be pleased or dismayed that we are not limiting the recruitment of future Methodist leadership to Methodists?
Have you stopped calling us - by name - as the people called Methodist?