I wonder what Jesus would think of this?

I wonder what Jesus would think of this?


I write this as the body is debating restructuring. It’s the big topic of the day and maybe the biggest of the entire conference. I wonder what Jesus would think of this.

I started thinking about this on my way to the conference center this morning, a walk of 5 or 6 blocks through downtown Tampa. This morning, I saw a homeless man at the trolley stop across the street. And I wondered if the presence of so many United Methodists in Tampa is making any difference at all in his life or the life of other poor people here. I really doubt that it is. We come and go from the conference center without interacting at all with the local people.

Last night I attended the General Board of Church and Society dinner and heard Tony Campolo speak (www.tonycampolo.org). He talked a lot about “red letter Christians”, people whose primary emphasis in scripture is on the gospels and the teachings of Jesus. According to those teachings, all of us at the dinner and probably all the people reading this, have too much. If we took seriously the words of Jesus, we would be living a far different lifestyle.

I heard someone last night talking about the mission of the church “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” His observation was that our measurements of this equate “disciple” with anyone attending church. Are we really going to emphasize “butts in the pews”, or do we truly care about developing followers of Jesus who live in accordance with his teaching?

Someone in debate a few minutes ago said “the whole world is watching us.” I beg to differ. I don’t think anyone outside the UMC cares how we structure our church. And I doubt Jesus would care, either. It does matter how we structure ourselves, but I hope we can remember the reason the church exists.

[Note: Watch General Confernce live at gc2012.umc.org]

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Jan Nelson

Jan Nelson is the Lay Leader of the Oregon-Idaho Conference. She was a delegate to the 2016 and 2019 General Conferences and 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference. Jan is on the Ministry Leadership Team, Jurisdictional and Conference Committees on Episcopacy, and the Holy Land Task Force. She is also Chapter president of the Oregon-Idaho Methodist Federation for Social Action. She lives in Salem, Oregon.

Boldly Making Disciples of Jesus Christ - Vitalizing the Church - Transforming the World