“The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
The mission of United Methodists-to make disciples is more than simply about one’s salvation experience, though that is obviously the critical beginning. The heart of Methodism is not social justice or creation care, though those things matter. It is much more than hosting attractive worship experiences. Our mission is to care for the spiritual formation of people at the deepest levels, so that their personal transformation results in the transformation of the world.
Spiritual formation is intentional transformation. It is God’s intent that we grow. Spiritual formation is growth that happens on purpose. We as Methodists today understand that our theological understanding calls us to go someplace spiritually, to be formed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Spiritual formation is a matter of the heart. The place where the shaping or forming happens is the heart. We believe that God wants to change the shape of us. God wants to conform us into the image of Jesus — to make us more loving, more gentle, more joyful, more peaceful, more gracious, more faithful, more trusting … more disciplined. At its core, Methodism is about using spiritual disciplines to be shaped into the character of Christ.
Spiritual formation happens for the sake of others. Methodism is designed to be both evangelistic and global. We do not apologize for our belief in the radical notion that our brand of faith has power to change the world. Further, God’s intent is not just to form each of us spiritually, but to make us partners in the work of transforming the world; nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
Spiritual formation is fueled by spiritual discipline. Methodists major on the disciplines. It is our contribution to the Body of Christ — this idea that through very practical habits, we can form an intimate relationship with Christ even as he forms us into his likeness. The means of grace are not the basis of our salvation (don’t mistake them for works righteousness), but they are a gift of God that allows us to participate in the process of our ongoing spiritual growth.
Adapted from: Moore, Carolyn: The Mission of a Methodist: Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World; April 2017