“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me
through their message, that all of them may be one.”
John 17:20-21a, NRSV
The United Methodist Church is divided, segmented, segregated and dismembered. And this torn, rent denomination suffers from the lack of a unifying understanding of what it means to be the body of Christ. When the messaging of General Conference took center stage yesterday, this multiplicity of agenda was painfully obvious: 7 vision pathways, 5 fruitful practices, 4 areas of focus, 3 simple rules.
What is the message of The United Methodist Church to its members and the world when there are at least 19 different ways to express ministry and mission? It seems impossible to expect the delegates of General Conference to settle on just one message that all United Methodists could agree upon, embrace and proclaim to the world. In fact, the church appears to thrive on multiple and mixed messages precisely to water down and dilute any power or effect.
The messages are not only mixed but contrary. Consider these from yesterday’s addresses,
- Young people are the church of tomorrow; we need younger leaders today.
- Poverty is rampant; we are a church of abundance.
- Membership is in decline; the church is growing in Africa.
It’s time to embrace one message. That message must reveal Christ to the world so “that all may be one.”