When the quadrennial theme “Getting Back to Basics as We Envision Our Way Forward Taking Care of God’s Business” was shared by Bishop Bobby Best and the College of Bishops at the 38th Quadrennial Session and 39th General Conference in Birmingham, AL, the Church was hesitant and optimistic. The hesitancy might have been the Getting Back to and optimism about Our Way Forward but here we are just months away from the 39th Quadrennial Session and the 40th Convening of the General Conference of the CME Church. Have we fully grasped the spirit of the quadrennial address? The theme suggested that we stop doing business as usual for the good of the Church and become change agents for Christ. The Quadrennial address suggested we focused on areas of alignment, intentionally on church growth, church planting, and church revitalization. Our way forward will require us to do so with intense passion and godly wisdom.
Growing God’s Way
Does the church have a natural process of growth? I suggest considering Jesus and the examples of growth found in scripture. For example, the growth of fig-trees, growth of the lilies of the field, growing fruit, and trees, workers in the vineyard, and the mustard seed of faith. All living things are created to grow. The necessities and principles of growth can work for the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church because principles are transferable, and principles of growth can work within our denomination. The common thread in each of these examples is soil which was critically important in Jesus’ day. But what is our soil? Could it be education, training, implementing faith, and trusting God at God’s Word? What must we contend within this season as we seek church growth, engage in church planting, and seek to experience church revitalization? However, one of the greatest principles for growth is change and we must welcome God’s desired change.
A New Language
It will be important to speak the language of inclusiveness which will be transformative with many functions and moving parts. However, change must be managed, we must educate pastors and laity. Although, people see change as a negative infringement on their normal way of doing things or how things ought to be done, change is great if it can be managed, and the vision of change can be precise and welcomed by all within the denomination. Organizations spend hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars creating new logos, buildings, and marketing campaigns to create effective change. What is the CME Church willing to invest?
Changing the Landscape
Covid19 and its variants have completely changed the landscape of the local Church, and our approach must be different. Allow me to share this example. In a local neighborhood, there was a Wendy’s restaurant. The building was one of the first designs in the eighties. After 30 years, the company decided it was time for a change. So, for about a month the restaurant was closed. Once the restaurant reopened, it was refurbished. It was amazing new paint, windows, signage, curb appeal, dining area, and parking lot. However, the change was not accepted by the community because the employees operated with the same culture, attitudes the same, slow service and at times bad service, and bad attitudes. The culture of the employees remained which made the experience worst. Let us not be like this local Wendy’s. Instead, let the CME Church embrace both the need and process for effectively addressing the changing landscape.
We are the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church recognizing the importance of Christ in our daily lives.
Rev. Dr. Leon C. Moore, Jr.
General Secretary of Evangelism and Missions
Pleasant Hill CME, Conyers, GA