I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transition period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself—while something else, still indistinct, were rising from the rubble.
This quote from poet and former President of the Czech Republic expresses exactly what is happening in our United Methodist Church. We are going through a time of dislocation, disorientation and disconnection. Every level of our church is feeling this anxiousness and yet deep in my soul, I feel that God is stirring in our midst. Something is emerging, and a fresh wind of the Spirit is blowing even as I write this. What God has in store for us is a mystery and yet my hope is that all of us, laity, clergy and churches will help usher in the new that will break forth.
This is the very reason for my request that each of our California-Pacific Annual Conference local churches take time to vision what their church will look like to their own congregation, their neighborhood and community. Under the tagline: “I See a New Church,” what will your church look like and embody in your local community? This is a chance for all of us to participate in the fresh wind from God that is blowing for our whole United Methodist denomination.
Here are some specific questions you may want to consider as you create your own response to “I See a New Church:”
- What central mission and purpose is your church called to at this time?
- What is the central need of your neighborhood and surrounding community?
- How can your church fulfill its purpose in “Making Disciples for the Transformation of the World?”
- What compelling missional message would relate to the non-churched people living in your community?
- Who is God calling your church to be?
These are just a few of the many questions that can be used to create a response to the vision of “I See a New Church.” Answering this question dovetails with the new emergence of the church that we started this reflection with. It allows us to participate in the fresh wind of the Spirit that will come no matter what obstacles we put in its way.
I see this as a very creative, energizing and compelling assignment for each church. By tackling the creation of this vision, we just might be remaking the very core of our churches and setting the stage for new ministries to emerge far into the future.
Of course, some of our churches have already crafted a powerful and relevant vision and I applaud those that have already undertaken this exercise. There is no need to do this again. Feel free to submit your previous vision, as long as it is updated and relevant to the issues we are currently facing.
As always, I and our Cal-Pac leadership are here to support you in this task. Please let me know if there is anything we can do to clarify this task or provide you with resources for this critical task of creating a new church.
I continue to hold all of you in constant prayers as we discern where God is leading us next.
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop