The Call to Ministry of All the Baptized

By Steve Manskar

As I was preparing for my “Thoughts on Wesleyan Leadership” webinar last week, I discovered that the 2012 General Conference made significant changes to ¶ 220 in The Book of Discipline. I must say I’m encouraged by the acknowledgement of the importance of small groups focused on disciple formation in equipping Christians to join Christ in his mission for the world.

This paragraph appears in “The Local Church” section of The Book of Discipline. ¶¶ 216-221 describe what I call a culture of holiness for the congregation. Everything that happens in the church should contribute to forming members as disciples of Jesus Christ and equipping them to be his witnesses in the world.

¶ 220 is titled “The Call to Ministry of All the Baptized.” It argues that all professing members should be equipped to live the baptismal covenant by serving together with Christ and his mission in the world. Baptism is not initiation into a community that exists to serve you and meet your emotional and spiritual needs. Baptism is initiation into a community of servants called by Jesus Christ to serve with him in his mission for the world (see Luke 4:18-19; Matthew 5-7; 28:16-20; John 20:19-23).

¶ 220. The Call to Ministry of All the Baptized—All members of Christ’s universal church are called to share in the ministry which is committed to the whole church of Jesus Christ. Therefore, each member of The United Methodist Church is to be a servant of Christ on mission in the local and worldwide community. This servanthood is performed in family life, daily work, recreation and social activities, responsible citizenship, the stewardship of property and accumulated resources, the issues of corporate life, and all attitudes toward other persons. Participation in disciplined group such as covenant discipleship groups or class meetings (pdf) is an expected part of personal mission involvement. Each member is called upon to be a witness for Christ in the world, a light and leaven in society, and a reconciler in a culture of conflict. Each member is to identify with the agony and suffering of the world and to radiate and exemplify the Christ of hope. The standards of attitude and conduct set forth the Social Principles (Part V) shall be considered as an essential resource for guiding each member of the Church in being a servant of Christ on mission.

How does your congregation make sure this happens?

How have you implemented covenant discipleship groups and/or class meetings?