NASHVILLE, Tenn. Oct. 25, 2017, /Discipleship Ministries/ – Annual conference leaders and clergy across the United Methodist connection are embracing the #SeeAllThePeople initiative to be in relationship with the communities surrounding their churches as a way to fully embody the spirit of the Wesleyan tradition.
“#SeeAllThePeople is beginning to play a vital role to help shift the conversation among our denominational leaders from fixing churches to seeing the people that God has called us to reach,” said the Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary (CEO) of Discipleship Ministries, as he unveiled the next phase of the initiative with a new short film.
The impact of #SeeAllThePeople already is being seen in many annual conferences, Dotson said.
“We see signs of this movement taking root in places like the Arkansas Annual Conference, which has decided to rebrand its guidebook for their clergy and laity, and in annual conferences like Oklahoma, New York, Greater New Jersey, Baltimore-Washington, Mississippi and Indiana, which are making some aspect of intentional discipleship and engagement with people who are outside the church a part of their annual conference goals,” he said.
In the New York Annual Conference, Dotson introduced about 200 clergy to the disciple-making initiative during a gathering earlier this month and will return in November to talk about intentional discipleship with laity from among the conference’s 455 congregations.
“I think Junius laid out for our clergy a real sense of not just the urgency for making this the primary focus of congregations in the United Methodist Church, but also gave some inspirational illustrations and examples of churches that are already doing it,” said the Rev. Matthew Curry, NYAC’s director of connectional ministries.
NYAC is emphasizing "The Journey of Disciple-making" this conference year. “We have churches that would identify social justice or activity or community outreach as their real strength and calling. And we have churches that really understand worship, study or some of the works of piety as being their real focus and gift,” Curry said. “Junius connected all that by saying relationships are the primary means by which we will make disciples, and we need to get serious about developing those relationships, particularly beyond the world of our church at the community level.”
The #SeeAllThePeople grassroots initiative, which began in May with a variety of resources available online at www.seeallthepeople.org, now has a second short film on the website to continue stimulating intentional discipleship efforts in congregations.
“Our first #SeeAllThePeople short film conversation starter sparked an invigorated focus on evangelism all across our denomination. We have distributed over 18,000 copies of the resource booklet, Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations,” Dotson said. “And now our new film will continue to get our congregations excited about intentional discipleship.”
Other annual conferences also have disciple-making efforts inspired by #SeeAllThePeople.
Bishop John R. Schol of the New Jersey Episcopal Area is getting 2,200 of theDeveloping an Intentional Discipleship System booklets for his clergy and laity.
“The Greater New Jersey Conference looks forward to partnering with Discipleship Ministries and using this timely resource to assist our transformational leaders and congregations to be more intentional about making disciples of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Schol. “We are deeply committed to developing a disciple making process in all of our congregations!”
The Tennessee Annual Conference plans to kick off its 2018 annual gathering with a community engagement event at Nashville’s Centennial Park. “Their goal is to model the principles of engaging people who are currently outside the church in the spirit of the #SeeAllThePeople movement,” Dotson said.
In Chicago, the congregation at South Shore UMC went outside its church to pray for people passing by in buses and cars and workers in the schoolyard across the street. They even served communion to people at a bus stop and police officers who stopped their car to observe what was going on.
The church’s pastor, Rev Adonna Davis Reid, wrote to Dotson: “Since encouraging the congregation to persevere in prayer and fasting, we have begun to move in ways not previously experienced, or at least not in anyone's memory. And we're trying new ways of engaging with the community by encouraging people to see all the people in line with your new initiative.”
“#SeeAllThePeople is one of many ways Discipleship Ministries is working to bring clarity, focus and renewed energy to our mission as an agency to challenge and support local church and annual conference leaders for their task of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Dotson said.
Each ministry unit at Discipleship Ministries – Leadership Ministries, Upper Room, Young People’s Ministries, New Church Starts (Path 1) and Discipleship Resources International – is creating resources, events and a discipleship system that emphasizes congregations being in relationship with those outside its walls.
“We’re excited that this is really an ongoing focus of Discipleship Ministries, so we know that as our congregations grow into this vision, the resources and other materials that will be coming from Discipleship Ministries will be staying on the same page with them,” NYAC’s Curry said.
In addition to the short film conversation starters and a free downloadable version of the Developing an Intentional Discipleship System booklet, these other resources are available online at www.seeallthepeople.org:
- A Social Hub, with numerous social media opportunities to follow and participate in the movement using the hashtag #SeeAllThePeople and images to share with friends
- Rev. Dotson’s video explaining the importance of creating an intentional discipleship system
- The Wesleyan Roots of #SeeAllThePeople, a downloadable pdf prepared by Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of worship resources at Discipleship Ministries, along with a video of Burton-Edwards describing the historical significance of the Wesleyan movement.
- Future #SeeAllThePeople updates by email
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The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, Discipleship Ministries is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit www.UMCdiscipleship.org.