Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world
A Vision Proposal for Bethel International United Methodist Church
Rev. Glenn Schwerdtfeger
October 14, 2018
An Amazingly International Church
When Revelation describes worship in heaven, it says “there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (7:9). Paul says in Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus” (3:28). Our diversity of color and language and nationality is part of our witness to the lordship of Christ. With our English-speaking, Korean and Nepali congregations, and with people here of descent from India, China, Africa, Peru, the Philippines, and elsewhere, Bethel International is uniquely positioned to make this witness.
Internal Focus: to foster relationships and activities that bring together our existing diversity—English-speaking, Korean, Nepali and more.
People have said to me: it feels like we are three separate congregations sharing the same building. What could be done about that?
What will this look like when we’ve lived it out? Everyone here has a personal relationship with at least five people at BIUMC from another country or culture. Now that sounds fun, doesn’t it?
External Focus: Intentionally reach out and include more of the diversity of the Bethel Road corridor
For example, 2018 demographic data show that in a two-mile radius 7% of the population is Asian and 5% African-American. That may not sound so high—but that’s 3300 Asians and 2300 African-Americans within walking distance. We don’t need to send missionaries overseas; the world has come to us! This church could become the leading multi-ethnic, multi-cultural congregation in Columbus. You’ve already taken huge steps. What could we do next?
It’s easy to see what this would look like: As Revelation puts it, every tribe and nation and language, all here together, with one heart and great joy.
A Contagious and Invitational Church
This was behind the “500 in 5” campaign—reaching new people for Christ, the energy of a growing congregation. That hasn’t happened yet, but the vision is still here!
When it comes to church growth, we have to be careful. This must not be a self-serving vision of getting new people to come and give time and money so our beloved church can survive. This has to be a missional vision of having a community, a message, a way of serving that enriches other people’s lives. We want to be like the church in Acts, whose fellowship was so sweet, whose welcome was so warm, whose generosity was so great that everybody wanted in.
Internal Focus: making this a church all can connect to and no one can stop talking about
We’ll know we’ve done this when we just can’t help ourselves from telling people about this church.
Exernal Focus: Invite, invite, invite
Back in August I shared these statistics about why people go to church: 2% saw a church ad, 6% were invited by the pastor, 6% were contacted by an organized outreach program, and 86% were invited by a friend or family member. How do we become that 86%?
And what might this look like? How about this—every one of us invites someone to Bethel every year. It’s just part of who we are.