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Why the Global Methodist Church Needs a Theology of Missions

global missions

One of the things that excites me about the newly formed Global Methodist Church is the early emphasis on bringing the good news of Christ to unreached people groups around the world. The GMC has a task force working on resourcing local churches for becoming increasingly committed to our shared global mission, and there is a lot of thoughtful creativity happening just now around the question of our mission and how we accomplish it.

I'm also excited that Rev. Paul Lawler of Christ Church Memphis will be at our upcoming Reconstructing Methodism conference to shepherd our thinking as it relates to the global mission of the GMC. Paul has worked extensively for decades to lead the Church more deeply into places around the world where the gospel has not yet taken root. I'm confident that he'll offer a compelling vision of what it looks like to "reconstruct our global mission" in the Global Methodist Church.

Paul Lawler Pastor Methodist

Why does our Methodist mission need reconstructing? You might be wondering about that question as the conference draws near (it's THIS WEEK!). In short, there's a deeply theological answer to the question. In the United Methodist Church, we didn't hear a lot about reaching the unreached people of the world. We did hear a lot about dialoguing with persons of other religions, but not much about conversion and discipleship. Why is that? Well, many in the UMC were committed to theological pluralism, even after that language was removed from the Discipline. And if you are committed to pluralism, you usually aren't too committed to a mission aimed at teaching the nations obey everything Jesus commanded (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). If you're committed to pluralism, then all religions are equally valid, and it would be an insult to suggest a person of another religion should convert to your religion. This is theological reason behind the reality that at least one United Methodist seminary devoted resources to the training of Muslim clerics. A pluralistic theology requires the varied religions of the world to be seen as equally valid partners and eschews the suggestion that persons of other religions should convert from one religion to another.

All that to say, the lack of emphasis on reaching the unreached in the UMC was, in part, the result of a faulty theological foundation. If we want the Global Methodist Church to be deeply and effectively engaged in our mission of bringing Christ to the nations, then that mission needs to be built on a strong theological foundation.

Reconstructing Methodism is aimed at doing that foundational work. I hope you'll join us in Birmingham, AL, April 26 and 27 (this weekend!) and be a part of the conversation.


reconstructing methodism


Dr. Matt O’Reilly is Lead Pastor of Christ Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Director of Research at Wesley Biblical Seminary, and a fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians. A two-time recipient of the John Stott Award for Pastoral Engagement, he is the author of Paul and the Resurrected Body: Social Identity and Ethical Practice, The Letters to the Thessalonians, and Bless the Nations: A Devotional for Short-Term Missions. Connect at and follow @mporeilly.

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