As a conference, our journey to vitality includes our vision of reaching new people. Many of us struggle with how best to do so. We are good at transactional ministry or ministry for people. The evangelistic task before us is that of embracing a more relational approach to ministry. If we are to effectively reach people for Jesus Christ, it must be with an eye toward ministry with people.
A few weeks ago, in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a Minister for Loneliness. Her action was in response to a report that over nine million in the country often or always feel lonely. Prime Minister May said, “I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones—people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.” The issue of loneliness is just as pervasive in the U.S. and in the communities we serve.
Our goal and vision of reaching people is rooted in a desire for people to know God’s love and grace as experienced and lived in Christian community. Our open hearts, minds and doors can be a great antidote to the loneliness that pervades our society.
Recently, Fourth Avenue UMC in Faribault launched a Fishing Extravaganza. Pastor Greg Ciesluk is leading the congregation in a 28-day fishing challenge to fish for people. The call is to fish for people who have “a hard time seeing the beauty of the gospel because of life distractions, hardened hearts, or wounds from religion and the church.” Ciesluk reminded the congregation that God’s grace can penetrate the veil over any person’s heart. At the end of this article you can read the steps that make up Fourth Avenue’s fishing process.
Since we are in the heart of winter, if we fish, it must be ice fishing. I don’t know much about ice fishing, but I do know after identifying a spot, the first step is to cut into or break the ice—to create an opening. How about we ask God to break the ice around our eyes, mind, and heart, that we might be present to the lonely around us. They are everywhere and sometimes, we ourselves are included.
Take the Fishing Challenge!
Simple steps to get ready
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church