Bishop Ward and the Rev. Reggie Ponder talk about the lectionary texts of planting and harvesting and sharing the story of outreach at Elevation UMC – each one to reach one.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
In these summer months as we enjoy sweet corn and tomatoes out of the garden, the texts appointed Sunday by Sunday come alive. Those texts are about planting and harvesting. Jesus often looks at creation and the abundance of creation to teach us important things.
I’ve asked Reggie Ponder, retired member of our annual conference who celebrated his 80th birthday just a couple of weeks ago, to share some of the good things that are happening at Elevation United Methodist Church, a church that is not only planting seeds, but gathering in the harvest.
REGGIE: Thank you Bishop Hope. I think I’ve been inspired the last several weeks with the lectionary text around the planting and harvesting, to think about our purpose as a church is to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and that if we are not making disciples and harvesting all the work that we do, with preaching and Bible study and mission activities, it’s the harvest that is the great joy. Our harvest is with bringing people into a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. We are disciples making disciples, and so at Elevation, I’ve tried to encourage our people to see themselves as disciples.
We’ve spent the past year on the book of Acts, going through the book of Acts. One of the stories that has really compelled me was when Paul was confronting King Agrippa. He didn’t go into a lot of theology; he told his story and when he finished telling his story, Agrippa said to him, “Would you make me a disciple in such a short time? Are you trying to make me a Christian?” Paul says “I wish that you were a Christian. It’d be like me, except for these chains.”
I’ve thought about that, that our purpose is to tell our story. So often we make evangelism and reaching disciples such a programmatic thing. Really, it’s telling the story of what God has done in our lives. I’m encouraging our people to write out their story, their spiritual biography, if you will, and tell that story. Share that story with a friend and then begin to share that story with someone that they’ve identified who’s outside the church. Our goal is for each member to reach one member over the next several years. We’ve had a large number of adult professions of faith over the last several years and we’re trying to reach people to make them disciples for Jesus Christ. It’s an exciting time.
BISHOP: Thank you to Elevation church and your excellent example. It reminds us all again of the power of our story because God works with each of us individually, lovingly, helping us be all that God intends for us to be and helping us be conduits of the grace of God that comes to us through Jesus Christ.
REGGIE: And not to be afraid of the harvest. Jesus said the harvest is rich, plentiful, but the laborers are few. We need to be laborers in that harvest.
BISHOP: May the harvest of your life this summer and always, be abundant.