“Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
(The United Methodist Church)
Let me first begin this January Newsline by saying “Happy New Year,” and extending my most sincere wishes that this coming year be a continuation of the Peace, Love, Joy, and Hope of the Advent-Christmas season, for you, and your families and friends. Actually, I think that is what “Happy New Year” is really meant to convey … it is the manifestation of that in which we Hope for the coming year, which necessarily involves Peace, Love, and Joy. And I contend that such Peace, Love, Joy … and Hope … is at its best when it is made manifest thru Jesus Christ, and our discipleship of the Christ. And as such, there is no greater way to share that Peace, Love, Joy and Hope, than to help others in your life know for themselves that same discipleship. I also believe that there is no better way to experience real vitality and life—as individuals and as church congregations—than by doing just that, i.e., living and sharing in such discipleship.
I share this thinking with you because of its relevance to an initiative we here at Marble have begun participating, called Vital Church Initiative or VCI. You may recall me mentioning that acronym from time to time, but in a nutshell, VCI is a process of renewal for growing healthy, vital, fruitful, missional congregations in the Michigan Area of The United Methodist Church. VCI prepares and enables congregations to answer God’s call to reach out to new people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. VCI is grounded in being Christ-Centered, Fruitful, Accountable, and Collaborative. Bottom line, VCI is about being a thriving and vital part of people’s lives (including our own) and the community.
VCI is an exciting process that involves shared learning (Phase 1), consultation (Phase 2) and implementation (Phase 3), and necessarily includes engagement of the whole congregation. This means that we all learn together and that all of our voices are heard along the way. At present, our leaders (Church Council) voted unanimously to participate in the shared learning or 1st Phase of the process. As such, we will be working to regularly communicate various opportunities to participate in that learning. Such opportunities will range from communicated updates, to town hall meetings, to engaging book reads and discussions. So stay tuned, or even better, ask lots of questions.
Perhaps what makes me most hopeful about the prospects of how VCI can benefit us is that it is based on shared knowledge and mission, for we cannot be stronger or smarter than when we are living and working together with the cumulative wisdom and passions of all of our minds and hearts. And ultimately, that is what VCI is all about.
So, let me say once again, “Happy New Year,” and may all your Hopes be made manifest, and may your discipleship to Christ be the foundation and source of real Peace, Love, and Joy for the coming year.
Blessings to you, your families and friends … Pastor Bob