Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

A Bishop With A Vision

            Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster presided over his first session of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference earlier this month.

           He brought strong leadership and a boost of enthusiasm for our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ in Western North Carolina.

            The 2009 Conference was inspiring and sobering.

            We learned that in spite of a Conference mission statement of “Follow Jesus, Make Disciples, Transform the World” our Conference declined by 408 members in 2008. Total membership in the WNC Conference stands at 293,180.

            Attendance at worship was also down by 806 people in 2008.

            More than 400 churches (out of 1180) had no one join the church on profession of faith in 2008.

            The good news is that Bishop Goodpaster came to Annual Conference with an exciting vision for the churches of Western North Carolina over the next few years.

            Raising three fingers in the air, he challenged the churches of Western North Carolina:

1) increase our membership to 300,000,

2) increase worship attendance to 30,000 each Sunday,

3) send 3,000 mission teams across the Conference, nation, and world in the name of Jesus Christ,

4) renew and remission 300 existing local congregations, and

5) start 30 new churches…

all in the next 3 years (by December 31, 2012)!

             Here is the vision in the Bishop’s own words:

            For those of you who were not at Annual Conference, and for those of you who have forgotten already, let me rehearse the “3” goals that I held up as our challenge: 300,000 members in the Western North Carolina Conference; 30,000 more people in worship; 3,000 mission teams sent in the name of Christ into the world; 300 resurrected churches (those that are stagnant or at plateau levels, refocused, re-energized, re-missioned for ministry in the world); 30 new faith communities – all in the next three years! Those are strategic, measurable goals that can be achieved if all of us together unite in common effort to follow Jesus, make disciples, and transform the world. What will be needed? Creativity, commitment, and intentional efforts to practice the faith we proclaim. For now, I hope that you will lift these goals in prayer, that you will explore what can happen in the community where you serve, and that you will renew personal commitments to live as faithful, fruitful disciples daily.

             I believe God has sent Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster to Western North Carolina to help our church refocus on our essential mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

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