It was about this time last year that Ministry Architects did a church-wide assessment – a diagnostic of the challenges facing our church. That report led to an initiative to make changes that have stopped the decline of our church and has even started to show elements of new life and growth!

This past fall, we gathered the whole church for a Moving Forward Summit where we set out to collectively name our mission statement, values and goals for the year 2023. Because the process takes a grass-roots approach, where we get input from the congregation in developing the direction of the congregation instead of leadership hashing it out and selling it to the church, it has taken us a few months to get everything ready to go. I launched a series on the gospel roots of our values on Sunday, but in this blog I want to share our mission statement for the year that came out of the process which makes specific the shared mission of all United Methodists as laid out in the 2016 Book Of Discipline: ¶ 120. The Mission—The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches and extension ministries of the Church provide the most significant arenas through which disciple-making occurs.”

For 2023, UMCG lives into our shared UMC mission as “We illuminate our community with God’s grace as we lovingly accept, listen to, and serve all in the Spirit of Jesus.” In this week’s blog, I want to share with you how this statement was birthed from our congregation’s work this fall. Future blogs will expand upon this statement’s significance and how we might live into it.            

So, the Moving Forward Team and Church Council arrived at this articulation of our work from our September All Church Summit; the group of sixty persons named verbs, outcomes, and target audience groups, which generated quite the lists of words. Then the group voted upon which terms best resonated our call as a church for 2023

The rest of the weekend the Moving Forward Team, Church Council and Staff kept prayerfully distilling, refining and wordsmithing the work of the larger group. Distilling ‘beacon for the community’ to one of its action words – illuminate. Then ‘everyone and anyone’ became word to all. We spent hours considering all the verbs and which ones seemed to bring UMCG alive, which resulted in the selection of ‘accept, listen to, and serve.’ As a church, we recognize our calling originates and is only made manifest in the Spirit of Jesus.

When all the inputs are laid out it is easy to see how our new mission statement came together. How we live as a people who illuminate our community with God’s grace as we lovingly accept, listen to, and serve all in the Spirit of Jesus– is the real challenge! Future blogs, sometimes with the help of guest bloggers from the Moving Forward Team, will seek to empower us all for the ‘how’ of our calling this year.

Looking forward to the journey together,