New math: With > 2 & 4

I am an American Baptist. I grew up attending an American Baptist church and I am ordained by the American Baptist Churches USA.

However (and oddly), I’ve spent the last 15+ years serving as one of the pastors of the Woodridge United Methodist Church. As The United Methodist Church is about ten times bigger than ABC/USA, I’ve had a lot to learn about tradition, history, structure and polity. It has been, and continues to be, a blessed journey. I’ve learned to love and respect the denomination. As you might expect, I especially love and respect the deep commitment The UMC has to mission and justice ministries.

However, there is a lot I still don’t know; I lot I can’t explain. Take, for instance, this Task Force and it’s list of member agencies:

The Interagency Task Force on Ministry with the Poor

  • General Board of Church and Society
  • General Board of Discipleship
  • General Board of Global Ministries
  • General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
  • General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits
  • General Commission on Archives and History
  • General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns
  • General Commission on Communications (UMCOM)
  • General Commission on Religion and Race
  • General Commission on Status and Role of Women
  • General Commission on United Methodist Men
  • General Council on Finance and Administration
  • United Methodist Publishing House

That’s a lot of bureaucracy! I couldn’t begin to describe how each of those boards, commissions and whatnot officially relate to each other. I could not begin to create a flow chart of them. (Or at least not one that would reflect reality.)

But I do know this about them: They have partnered together to create a fantastic new resource for mission and justice!

This week Ministry With* the Poor went live and it rocks!

It has a ton of information and links to explore. You could easily spend hours reading and watching, donating and mobilizing, learning and blogging. At the very least though, please take 2.5 minutes and go watch the introductory video. We watched it as part of our Youth Mission Trip preparation this week.

Wait, are you still here? Go watch that video! Now! Do it!

…And we’re back. So, what did you think? Were you moved? Want to know more? Want to join the effort? At Woodridge UMC we’ll definitely begin exploring ways to do just that. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll join that conversation here or at Ministry With* the Poor.

For now, here are a couple pearls of wisdom from the site:

What’s this site about?

The goal of this site is to help connect, inform, inspire, and energize the people of The United Methodist Church to engage in ministries of love and justice that involve partnering with and empowering those who are in poverty to eradicate poverty. We are, after all, called to be disciples of Christ for the transformation of this world.

What are the founding principles?

Ministry with the Poor is fundamental to our Wesleyan and pietistic roots and integral to the Church’s mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and by exemplifying Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor, thus seeking the fulfillment of God’s reign and realm in this world” (The United Methodist Book of Discipline 2008, par. 121). Indeed, Ministry with the Poor is a biblical imperative—as much for everyone today as it was for Jesus when he proclaimed: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19; see Isaiah 61:1-2; 58:6-10; Leviticus 25:8-55; Galatians 2:10).

Followers of Jesus too are “anointed”—anointed to serve as disciples of Jesus, to be his “witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), and to serve as God’s co-creators in bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. But being “anointed” as disciples for the transformation of the world does not imply superiority; in fact, quite the opposite is true.

Disciples of Jesus are all called to be ministers with the poor. As such, disciples are called not only to be prophets, liberators, healers, equalizers, and justice-makers, but also to be hospitable and caring brothers and sisters in Christ, who break bread with one another, nurture community, and work together to make this world a place of justice, mercy, and love. (Romans 12:13).

“Anointed to serve as God’s co-creators in bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth.” To me, that is what following God in the Way of Jesus is all about!

Let’s share best practices: what ways are you engaging in ministry with people in need?

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