Tag Archives: One body

On Being The Global Church

I heard a question recently that jumpstarted thoughts about the global church from a new perspective for me. I attended a plenary session for the UMC Global Ministries Board meeting in New York city, and two people from Boston University offered a presentation on church growth around the world. One question they asked during the presentation was, “What gifts and graces do the United Methodists bring to the ministry of the Global Church?”
Usually when I hear discussions on the Global Church one of two things are mentioned. One, what are the commonalities of the denominations in discussion? Two, what are the dividing differences, or what are the issues that are keeping them separate? Yet this question of gifts and graces offers a new perspective. It acknowledges and validates the differences of the varied denominations, while uplifting the ways each can contribute distinctly to God’s holy work of healing this world.
This is not meant to brush aside the serious discussions about divisive issues among denominations. Rather, I wonder what discussions would look like when people from varying denominations saw each other as gifts from God. This leads me to mention another story I heard while at the board meeting, which I think should give all Christians a good anchor point as they reflect on how their lives can make a difference in this world.
The story goes like this: An Imam invited a pastor from a local church to offer a message in the mosque to the congregation. The pastor accepted, and arrived on the appointed day at the appointed time. Moments before the pastor spoke the Imam told him, “You cannot say anything about Christianity today… (pause) rather, you can only talk about Jesus.” I know that one could parse out many meanings from this story, yet the point I took from it is: that when Christians forget about the person and work of Jesus in their arguments and efforts of evangelism, then they miss the point. That is, Jesus did not live among us to validate Christianity, rather Christians should read, heed, and emulate Jesus as they live, move, and have their being in this world – living out of the distinct gifts and graces that God has given to each person.

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