There is an interesting discussion going on in the United Methodist Church between two prominent pastors. Adam Hamilton, the senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, and Mike Slaughter, the senior pastor of the Ginghamsburg UMC in Tipp City, Ohio, each have different approaches to the process of making disciples of Jesus Christ. Both churches are making disciples. Thankfully the two pastors are not fighting over the issue.
The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection has a membership of over 20,000 people. Their average attendance in 2012 was 10,274! The Ginghamsburg UMC has an average of over 5000 people on campus every weekend. 2,800 people participate in their cell groups annually. These are small groups that meet weekly in someone’s home, a restaurant, or at the church for time together, caring for one another, Bible work, and missions.
What does their disciple-making discussion have to do with us or any Christian for that matter? Do you want us to be like them? I will answer this question first – No – we are not either church and we are not called by God to be exactly like either one. But it is the disciple-making discussion that is important.
The Ginghamsburg UMC has a high level of expectation for their members. Their cell groups are required for disciples who in the process of becoming baptized. Other expectations include worship attendance, using Holy Spirit-given gifts and talents, and financial support of the church. This leads to a 1500 member church that averages over 4600 in worship attendance.
The UM Church of the Resurrection is the opposite. All can get baptized and then the disciple-making process begins. Again, there are expectations, which include regular worship, continued participation in a small group, volunteering in the church, community, and world, proportional giving.
The common theme is the level of expectation. Regardless of when a person is baptized, growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ is the expectation. The areas of the country where these churches are located notice the difference the expectations make.
What about our church, could we have similar expectations of our members? Could we be growing as disciples? That is what our church-wide initiative called A Disciple’s Path is about. We can grow as disciples. We need to know the expectations. Of course, being a disciple means that we get to be like Christ Jesus. May we help each other along the way!
In Christ’s Service,