Publisher’s Page: Transformational change
Change. When reading that word, what comes to mind? Do you cringe? Do you feel fearful? Does your imagination soar?
At United Methodist Communications, we have spent the recent summer months engaging in conversations about change as we undertook strategic planning for the organization. What needs to change? What doesn't? And why?
Our openness to reimagining United Methodist Communications is biblically based, as the Scriptures show us that Jesus was the perfect change agent, a person who, according to one definition, is a catalyst for change. He may have understood better than anyone about the necessity to change.
The Bible is filled with examples of people whose lives were transformed after meeting Jesus, including blind people who gained sight, sick people who became well and wayward people who found direction.
Paul's transformation was so dramatic that, in his conversion, Jesus told him to change his name from Saul to Paul. He became one of the most influential leaders in the early church, whose words continue to inform believers to this day.
Likewise, the Old Testament includes stories where change was necessary to fulfill God's plans.
Abraham changed from a wealthy and comfortable man to one who followed God to a new land where he would become the father of the nation of Israel.
David changed from a timid boy to one with courage in order to defeat Goliath and, ultimately, become the king of Israel.
Esther changed from a reluctant young girl to a bold queen who saved her people.
In our world today, we find that the mission statement of The United Methodist Church embodies the essence of change: The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Of course, transformation is another word for change. The real question then becomes how do we, as United Methodists, change the world? What actions can we take in our annual conferences, in our local churches and individually to make disciples of Jesus Christ?
In this issue of Interpreter, you'll read about changes that inevitably occur in our world and churches, including neighborhood demographics, worship styles and others, and how United Methodists are navigating those changes. You'll read how we are reaching across cultures and differences to remain a vital and relevant force in the world.
The changes we seek at United Methodist Communications are driven by much of what we see happening in our local churches. We seek solutions for communicating our message in the digital age, especially developing best practices for using the many social media platforms. We explore effective ways to engage with the growing number of seekers in our society. We strive to create meaningful resources to connect our global church.
Change in The United Methodist Church is not new. The Book of Discipline, in its rationale for our mission, cites change as the primary result of how God has and continues to use the church.
"Throughout its history, God has used The United Methodist Church to save people, heal relationships, transform social structures and spread scriptural holiness, thereby changing the world" (The Book of Discipline 2012, Section 1, ¶ 121).
During our time of strategic planning at United Methodist Communications, we found that rather than instilling fear, discussing change has been invigorating. While it's true that change means stepping into the unknown, the new ideas and new initiatives have revitalized our day-to-day routines.
I look forward to what promises to be an exciting new era at United Methodist Communications as we implement the strategies that have resulted from strategic planning. I also look forward to seeing what God does in The United Methodist Church in the coming quadrennium and beyond as we open ourselves to experiencing an ongoing transformation by the Holy Spirit.
Dan Krause is general secretary of United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, and publisher of Interpreter.