Churches challenged to live out core principles found in ‘The Methodist Way’



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Churches challenged to live out core principles found in ‘The Methodist Way’

April 6, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011 
tparham@flumc.org  Orlando {0652}

NOTE: A headshot of Stiggins is available at http://www.flumc.info/photo_gallery2.shtml.

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — The Florida Conference’s Office of Congregational Transformation (OCT) is calling all Florida Conference churches and members to live “The Methodist Way,” and they’ll get a chance to learn what that means through workshops being provided before the annual conference event in June.

Rev. Dr. Jeff Stiggins
The Rev. Dr. Jeff Stiggins, executive director of OCT, said The Methodist Way is not new. At the root are core formative practices by which the United Methodist movement spread: cultivating a congregation of passionate worshippers, engaging the community of faith and the next generation in radical hospitality, forming mature apprentices of Jesus through intentional and deep discipling, sending out “salty” servants into the community and the world, and practicing extravagant generosity.

OCT will be offering free classes for each of the five practices of The Methodist Way June 5 at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., prior to the start of the “From Generation to Generation” 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event. Churches are encouraged to send as many people as possible to the classes, even if they are not participating in the annual conference gathering.

Within each class a brief explanation of all the practices — passionate worship, radical hospitality, intentional discipling, salty service and extravagant generosity — will be provided before the presenter focuses on the specific practice for that class. The classes will offer a scriptural basis for the practice and share how it is part of the church’s Wesleyan heritage.

Stiggins said participants will learn a variety of practical ways the core practice can be strengthened in their home congregations. They will also have time to share and discuss what they are doing in their individual churches to bolster the core practice. Material pointing to additional sources of information will also be provided.

Stiggins said the practices are about more than just giving lip service to attending church or being the church.

“Passionate worship is about being people who gather around Christ on a regular basis in a living, working relationship,” he said. “Radical hospitality is profound evangelism — reaching out to others as Jesus did — which goes way beyond just being nice.

“This is living out who we are, not just being nice. This is welcoming people and letting them know what being a disciple is all about as a Christian.”

Stiggins said those who think intentional discipling, the third practice, is about church membership should think again because it is “far more complex.”

“This is about intentionally teaching people to actually follow Jesus as their daily Lord,” he said. “It is being very intentional about helping people grow followers of Jesus Christ. It’s about helping people to forgive more, judge less. It’s about being less prejudiced and being more compassionate. It’s about making a difference in the lives of people.”

The fourth practice is important because it speaks to the value of a church. Stiggins said salty service is about the church being involved in the world and a blessing to its community.

“The church should be such a force in its community that the community would wail in grief if the church disappeared because of the many activities it is involved in on a regular basis,” he said. “It’s easy for a church to adopt a fortress mentality, just pull the sheets up over its head and let the world go by. But a ship can’t sit safely in the harbor when it was meant to sail. This is all about us being involved in helping people and changing the world with Christ.”

Extravagant generosity, Stiggins says, refers to “one of the last rooms in our lives we surrender to Jesus’ leadership.” He said how Christians spend their money is often viewed as an off-limits subject.

“We live in a material world, in a material culture,” he said. “We are extra-affluent. We live in a world where everything is determined by what you own, what you wear, where you live. If we are growing as apprentices of Jesus Christ, we need to let go of some of this stuff and focus on other things. The spiritual discipline of tithing helps us do just that. If we ignore it, we do so at our own spiritual peril.”

Stiggins said the classes will help participants see the big picture of “forming disciples for the transformation of the world.” He said the practices are not “new age” or even new and should be readily accepted by United Methodists.

“We should do what God is telling us to do,” he said.

Books about the practices will be on sale at the Cokesbury display at 10 percent off the regular price.

People are encouraged to register for the classes on the Florida Conference Web site at http://www.flumc.org through the link for the annual conference event or directly at http://www.flumc.org/methodistway. Registration is for planning purposes only. A bulletin insert explaining the classes and practices is also available for churches to download and share with members of their congregations.

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This article relates to Congregational Transformation and Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.




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