One element that seems apparent throughout all the scriptural narratives of Jesus is that people were always present around him because of his ministry. Jesus truly saw and engaged all the people. One of the main objectives of FUMC’s Strategic Plan, is to make connections in the community to bring people to know the love of God through Jesus Christ. It is worth noting, many followers and would be followers of Jesus had and still have today different expectations of him. Those expectations affected their interactions with Jesus. Our experiences draw on our existing knowledge, beliefs, and expectations. What are your expectations of Jesus?
From Expectations to Reality: Creating Effective Habits
The scriptures we will examine this month are meant not only meant to build on the greater expectations set during the month of December, but to also help us take decisive steps to turn God’s plans for our lives into practical actions of living. The weekly Sunday worship is only part of the process of going from expectations to reality. Other important acts that will help you form good habits for the year include attending Sunday School hour, meditating on the daily devotions, joining a prayer group, and/or joining us at the Food Pantry or Free Meals Program. If you want to have a conversation with me as you think about living into God’s expectations for you, please e-mail me at email@example.com. You will receive an automatic reply back with Rev. Williams’ availability. Click that link and schedule a time that works for you. Our reality draws on our existing knowledge, beliefs, and believing in God’s greater expectations for us. Being an effective disciple of Jesus means training our mind and heart to see and engage as Jesus did. What were some spiritual habits that Jesus taught disciples?
Making an Investment in our Reality
In my first Messenger article to you in June 2018, I wrote of the expectations Bishop Schol and the District Superintendents have of me and all the Greater New Jersey clergy. With your help, I’m expected to lead the congregation to increase its effectiveness through these six (6) vitality goals:
- Planning and leading inspiring worship.
- Making new disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Involving more people in small groups to go deeper in faith in the Wesleyan tradition.
- Develop and grow leadership amongst the laity to lead our new and existing ministries.
- Engage disciples in hands-on local and outside the community missions.
- Increase the giving of disciples, including the 100% support of our United Methodist commitment to world service and shared ministries.
Through listening sessions, church retreats, and the strategic plan, you expect the same. You also hope the broader community supports moving these expectations into reality.
I was moved by your responses to a previous article I wrote about our beloved church building. I conveyed to you phrases that some community members spoke to me … “intimidating”; “castle on a hill”. In response, many of you wanted me to hear that current and past members have invested their time, money, sweat, blood, and tears into this making this building a beautiful edifice of God’s love. I thank God that we can have a relationship of open and honest dialogue. Let’s never stop striving for clear and transparent communication.
Our reality is that we are not intimidating, that we are down to earth, that we are a welcoming and open congregation. Plainly said, we need to invest in our reality so that a new generation of would be believers come to believe this truth as their reality. In doing this, the reality of the community matches the reality of the church; as a result, more people come to know and see Jesus. Do your expectations of Jesus and what you understand as being an effective disciple of Jesus match with the aforementioned six (6) vitality goals?
As a congregation and disciples of Jesus, we have discerned greater expectations for our collective ministry. In reading this edition of the Messenger, read it with the truth that you are a vital part of the FUMC ministry. Our future reality depends on all of us.
May our mind and heart remain open to new possibilities,
Rev. William M. Williams, III