We Will Love You to Life - Issue #73
Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tennessee is a small-membership congregation with a big vision: "We will love you to life."
United Methodist candidates for ordination are asked whether they will "visit from house to house." Sharon Karomoko, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church, is doing just that. And she is not the only one. She regularly leads members of her congregation in "Jericho walks" around the neighborhood. The purpose of the walks? Make sure every person in the neighborhood sees and hears loudly and clearly that the congregation is serious about sharing God's love. She and others introduce themselves to their neighbors and give them a package of homemade cookies with the vision statement and contact information for the church. They also let them know they are available for prayer, conversation and support. It's about loving their neighbors.
Worship at Wesley is lively, enriched by the gifts of the people who attend and others in the community who are glad to offer their talents. Worship there isn't about gimmicks or a show to attract people. It's about what those who have been drawn to God through the love of its members and pastor can offer back to God.
Members and leaders at Wesley are expected to pray, study the Scriptures, fast, and be active in ministry in their daily lives. In leadership meetings, the pastor regularly asks them how they are doing these things. If the answer is "not well," the next question is, "Then how are you going to improve?"
The results over the past two years are not simply a growth in worship attendance (from an average of 15 to an average of 85) but rather a multiplication of disciples and life in Jesus Christ. John Wesley would be proud. Wesley UMC lives up to its name and to its vision as the members love people to life.
Some Questions for Discussion
How do you "visit from house to house" where you are?
What do you do to show that your congregation is committed to loving your neighbors to life?
How are leaders in your congregation held accountable to basic Christian practices, including prayer, fasting, studying the Scriptures, and ministry in daily life?
Taylor Burton-Edwards is Director of Worship Resources at the Discipleship Ministries. He can be reached at [email protected]