Recently I have heard several United Methodists, including at least one District Superintendent, say that our mission as United Methodists is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to transform the world.”
Miss by an inch, miss by a mile. This is where we run the danger of fulfilling Mike Breen’s prophecy “Why the Missional Movement Will Fail.”
Simply put: transforming the world is not our job. It is God’s. God doesn’t even need our help, but God has invited us along on the journey toward a transformed world.
And, to be clear, the mission statement of The United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
We are to make disciples. If we are making disciples, God does the work of transformation in us and in the world.
It seems to me that making disciples is hard enough work for us. So much so, in fact, that through history one might say the church has too quickly given up on making disciples and instead gone after transforming the world.
Without discpleship, though, efforts at transformation end up being about power and control, and the church cannot and will not win games of power and control (whether the games are within the church or between the church and others). The only way the church can win is the way Jesus won.
Discipleship is, after all, in the simple sense, following. We are disciples when we are following Jesus. We are making disciples when we are bringing others along with us on the journey that is following Jesus.