New program seeks to move churches outside walls

9/23/2009

Special to the Advocate

With a call to move beyond the walls of its churches, the Mississippi Conference plans to introduce the “Celebrate Jesus Ministry.”

Recently Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and the cabinet encouraged local congregations to “Knock on 9” doors in their communities in response to the annual conference’s theme regarding doors as a means of “radical hospitality” as the denomination seeks to re-think church. 

The “Celebrate Jesus Ministry” is a tool for reaching neighborhoods with good news of Jesus Christ. Churches are hearing the cries of neighbors in need and seeing them through the compassionate eyes of Jesus. These churches are helping create shelter, food, outreach, new youth groups, new worship services, houses of prayer, community barbecues, car washes, neighborhood “fifth quarter” tailgate parties, Alpha, tutoring, servant evangelism, acts of kindness – all exhibiting God’s love in practical ways.

The hallmark of a Celebrate Jesus Mission is to intentionally move toward full obedience to the Great Commission.

Celebrate Jesus is not about strengthening a church or ensuring its survival; it is about having a heart for the lost and the hopeless, it is about desiring for them to know Jesus, it is about recovering connection to the community. Churches are not to be so busy saving their own lives, but they are to let go of themselves (lose our lives) for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Celebrate Jesus is an instrument to move churches, their members and their communities further in their walk of faith with Christ. Celebrate Jesus encourages participants through prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit to envision and implement unique ways to invite, welcome, nurture, and disciple those who respond. Specific guidelines have been developed to assist churches in reaching out beyond their walls by knocking on doors, offering prayers, helping and then to meet needs.

Martha Duncan will share information about “Celebrate Jesus Ministry” and tell stories of how this ministry has changed the Florida Annual Conference.

In addition to the members of the Revitalization Committee, each district has been requested to send two representatives to this event. Those interested in attending should contact the Rev. Andy Stoddard at andy@eclergy.net or the Rev. Embra Jackson, administrative assistant to the bishop at embra@mississippi-umc.org.

To learn more about the Knock on 9 ministry, contact Lisa Cumbest Michiels, Mississippi Conference communications director, at 601-354-0515 ext. 17 or via e-mail knockonnine@mississippi-umc.org.