Pastor's Pen

Dear friends,

We are a month into 2017 and the rest of the year is before us. Our mission as the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the purpose of changing the world. We work to fulfill that by caring deeply, loving unconditionally, and offering hope and new life through Jesus Christ. Those are great words, but words only go so far unless action goes along with them.

Last fall, our new District Superintendent, Tim Bias, charged us with developing a Discipleship Pathway to provide an action plan of how we were going to intentionally make disciples of Jesus Christ at New Zion Church. We discussed it at church council in November before presenting it at Church Conference.

Our pathway is a work in progress and will hopefully provide intentionality as we move through 2017. But if no one knows what that pathway is, then it is difficult to walk it and work it. So, below is our 2017 Discipleship Pathway or, perhaps, road to an intentional Discipleship Pathway would be a better title. It is both a look at what we’re doing as well as what we are in the process of doing to reach the goal of intentional disciple making.

We are all New Zion Church and it will take every member working together with God to move us to this new place where God is calling us. Read through it, pray over it, ask God where you are called to be in it, and pray for the process. I invite you to become a part of the revitalization team which meets after the second service. Pack a lunch and join us. Come and see what’s happening.

If you can’t be a part of it, pray for the revitalization team. To turn us around, it is going to take prayer matched with hard work and all of us working together. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves? God’s calling.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Rick

New Zion UMC 2017 Discipleship Pathways

For 2017, New Zion UMC will continue to be welcoming. We have a hospitality table weekly as well as greeters and ushers. We are exploring ways to improve those ministries. We are in the process of making our building more guest friendly by improving signage. We also greet new families moving into the community with an information bag about our community and our church. If at all possible, we greet them personally. Each week the gospel is presented and each person is invited to take next steps to deepen or begin their relationship with Christ. Also, members and regular attenders are encouraged to invite their family and friends, especially on special Sundays. We provide them with invitation cards to do so. Also, we have church calling cards which give the pastor’s information on one side and the time of our services with an invitation and a place for the inviter’s name and telephone number. We also have cards for people to use during servant evangelism and random acts of kindness though these events have not been well organized yet.

We are currently going through a Revitalization Consultation with Thom Rainer teaching on video and support through a Facebook group and email. He presents a 4-legged stool model of church revitalization. The first deals with expectations and includes raising the expectations of church membership. We are currently working on designing our new members class. Pastor Rick has preached on being a church member from this perspective. We are also developing plans for moving people from first time attenders and attenders to full functioning members of the body of Christ.

The second leg of the Church Revitalization stool is a clear process of discipleship. We will be hearing Thom’s teaching on this and then develop a process to grow people in discipleship that has clarity, movement, alignment with our mission and vision, and focus. This will include a component of faith sharing as well so the cycle of discipleship paragraph 122 will be complete.

The third leg is an intentional outward focus. Every decision we make needs to include this focus. We aren’t here primarily for us. We are here to fulfill the great commission. We currently focus on generously giving to missionaries around the world and sending out missionaries from our congregation on short term mission trips. We have an active UMW and UMM. We partner well with ministries in the Baltimore community and have a number that serve in these arenas. There are only two things that New Zion is known for in the community and that is for our Vacation Bible School and our Live Nativity. These reach out into our community and are great. We will be exploring with Thom different ways to be more intentionally outward focused.

The fourth leg of the stool is developing leadership and relational skills so that ministry may continue. We look forward to exploring this more with Thom as well.

This is a plan that will unfold as we move forward in our Church Revitalization Consultation. We desire to fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the purpose of changing the world as we grow through Christ in living out our vision of caring deeply, loving unconditionally, offering hope and new life through Jesus Christ.

Presented at Church Conference, 11/14/2017.