Background Data for Mission
The Background Data for Mission newsletter helps United Methodist leaders sort through the new and integrate it with the old. It explores the latest in technology, demographic trends, and contemporary approaches to worship, church education, and evangelism.
Last month’s newsletter addressed defining boundaries of ministry areas. The intent was to challenge churches to figure out where they are called to serve.
Churches grapple with the question that prompted the parable of the Good Samaritan: “Who is my neighbor?”
One United Methodist pastor working in another country has started 100 churches there in the last eight years.
An organic approach notes that live organisms naturally grow and reproduce, given healthy conditions. Churches can do the same.
Every year the Research Office presents the latest (now 2007) UMC (USA) official church statistics. Generally this yearly report sounds much like previous year’s and this year is no exception.
Studying how successful churches and other types of outliers achieve that status will bring an understanding of how new church starts and existing churches can avoid stagnancy and decline.
As has often been noted, the African UMC is growing overall and the US church is declining. There are reasons for this, of course, though opinions vary widely on what exactly those are.
The retailers are again reminding us to shop. Actually, they are always doing so, except they increase the pressure around the holidays. Consumerism has become part of the fabric of our culture in the US.
Scenario planning is specifically designed to deal with major, uncertain shifts in context. It is not about predicting the future but rather attempts to describe what is possible. As a group of distinct plausible futures is identified, one can then develop approaches to deal with them.
Church workers know that behavioral change is difficult to achieve. High-energy prices are likely to force such changes in church participants and church decisions in coming months and years.
The more the church lives out community, grounded in faith, the more likely the surrounding community will start to taste it as well. After all, we are to make disciples for the transformation of the world.
The Arlington Institute is a futures think tank located in the DC area which has identified five areas as the “World’s Biggest Problems”: 1. global economic collapse; 2. peak oil; 3. water crisis; 4. species extinction; 5. rapid climate change. Paramount in all of this is how the church is in mission to those impacted by the global problems.