Strategic Emphases for the Ministries of Creekwood United Methodist Church
In order to accomplish our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, our Executive Team defined the vision for Creekwood as, “Creekwood stands to inspire growth through scriptural education, relationship-based mission opportunities and faith-centered fellowship, with the hope of leading hearts and minds to the love of Jesus Christ in an open, loving community.”
A disciple at Creekwood is “a person growing towards a living expression of their faith in Christ via the means of learning, sharing, and serving.” In the Methodist expression of faith development, we strive for the moment when we encounter God’s grace so fully that we are made perfect, if only for a moment, in our attitudes and actions, but recognize that disciple cultivation is a life-long journey. We also draw on the inspiring Methodist history of living faithfully outside the walls of the church, into everyday life. To best experience and respond to God’s grace, we believe a disciple should actively:
1) Learn – A disciple is a student who continuously seeks to learn and claim as their own the wisdom of Christ. Disciples ought to approach scripture with an open and humble heart and mind for transformation.
2) Share – A disciple must have an open heart and an open mind to fully receive the grace of God. Openness is cultivated by sharing our emotions, our time, our presence, our finances, and inviting others to know us, as we seek to know them.
3) Serve – Disciples practice their faith by sharing God's love through word and mission. The words of Jesus indicate strongly that our faith ought to lead us to love others through active servanthood, inside and outside of the church.
The Executive Team has come up with these emphases to focus on when planning events, strategizing for ministries, and deciding how to invest time and resources for building the Kingdom of God, in order to grow disciples most effectively. These emphases should be carefully considered when evaluating an existing or new ministry to ensure it fits with our vision of promoting scriptural learning, sharing in community, and serving in empowering ways.
Goals should be set and presented to the Executive Team for the next ministry year, and team chairs will report on goal progress in quarterly church council meetings so that we might celebrate together, be focused in one heart and one mind, and hold ourselves accountable.
1) Make and Grow Disciples of Jesus Christ (Learning)
We are called to be invitational to Christ in all things. We are not merely disciples in a moment, but strive to grow deeper through scripture and consistently seeking to incorporate it into our daily habits. While we may need to be sensitive to the level or aggressiveness of invitation, we should follow Jesus' commissioning in Matthew 28 and John Wesley's famous exhortation, "You have nothing to do but save souls."
To consistently accomplish this we should:
- Create a culture of invitation - from large events to individual members in their neighborhoods, Creekwood must establish a habit of inviting people into the knowledge and grace of Jesus through our church and its members.
- Create an easy-to-understand pathway towards membership – as people respond to God’s love, make certain they can easily be brought up to speed on the church’s mission, vision, and how they can intentionally grow in God’s grace personally, and with the church collectively.
- Form Intentional Pathways of Deeper Spiritual and Relational Growth – establish tools and schedules to ensure an easily-discernable “next step” for each person, no matter what age, development, or faith-level they may be. Careful attention should be paid to how events, studies, worship, etc. build off one another to help people continue to grow.
- Develop Principled Leaders – create a system to grow leaders from already committed members, so they will be equipped and inspired to grow other disciples within the church and out in the community.
2) Move persons from a “Me” mentality to a “We” mentality. (Sharing)
Church is about submission to Christ and humility with each other. In our stewardship of time, resources, and prayer, we are called to be of one mind and one heart (Acts 4). Church members should be involved in a group setting, which itself ought to benefit and advance the vision of the church.
To accomplish this we should:
- Promote the Importance of Small Groups – small groups are the most effective environment for disciple-making, providing a community of trust and encouragement that is essential to faith.
- Continuously Seek to Launch New Short and Long-Term Small Groups – studies show that those uninvolved with a small group community are more likely to join something where everyone is new to that environment, than an existing group of relationships. Groups should be offered on various levels, such as sports, Bible study, dinner groups, etc.
- Intentionally Deepen Relationships across Demographics and Interest Groups – provide special events, conjoined studies, and more to develop open relationships across church demographic groups.
- Teach the Biblical principles of Stewardship – guide members to a place of gratitude for God’s blessings and the ministries of the church to where they joyfully and faithfully give their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness towards the ends of Christ’s Kingdom through the church.
3) Instill a Passion for Relationship-Based Mission in Each Person (Serving)
Methodist theology focuses less on escaping to heaven, and more on Heaven breaking into Earth. Our relationship with God calls us to be co-creators alongside God, shaping the way that life looks in our world. In the same way, we are called not just to help, but to empower those we serve. Therefore, we will serve in ways that lead to long-lasting, empowering relationships that help guide our neighbors towards their own opportunity to realize God’s dreams for them. (Matthew 25)
To accomplish this, we should:
- Promote the Values of Service with our Young Persons – In all reality, the world will shift more with each new generation than with the current one. One of our primary visions must be to instill in our young people a deeper understanding of God’s love, so that their behavior and attitudes might shape the world in the future.
- Continue to Highlight and Celebrate our Mission Successes – stories of transformation will inspire others to take a leap of faith, and, as the end goal of a faithful life, stories of service should be given priority in communications. Education about our core missions should be included often throughout the year.
- Provide Easy On-ramps to Service Inside and Outside of the Church – alongside excellence in planning, scheduling, and communicating about missions, provide easy information and steps for inclusion for people at various levels of availability.
- Become a Launching Point for Community Missions – whether hosting a travelling youth group, teaming with the surrounding cities, or inviting other churches into mission with us, we should lead our community towards the Christian imperative of loving our neighbors as ourselves.