From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Church's missions must be Christ-centered, Nugent says

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 07 Apr 2000 13:32:40

April 7, 2000	News media contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York

NOTE: For related coverage of the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries meeting, see UMNS stories #186, #188 and #189.

STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS) - At the beginning of a new millennium, the central
question regarding mission in the United Methodist Church should be: "Have
they come to know Christ?"

That's the message the Rev. Randolph Nugent delivered to directors of the
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries during their April 3-6 meeting.

As the mission agency's chief executive, Nugent pointed to its efforts in
establishing churches and providing leadership for those congregations as a
way of answering "yes" to that question. But such efforts must be
continuous. "One-shot or scatter-shot proclamation is not sufficient," he
warned. "We must prepare ourselves for the long haul, and we must be
prepared to confront the obstacles faced by those who hear our proclamation
of Christ."

The diverse obstacles include alcohol and drug addiction, sexual
exploitation and poverty. To help others confront them means "laying a
foundation for mission and carefully building upon that foundation," Nugent

He cited as an example the problems of hidden landmines that maim, kill and
prevent the productive use of farmland. It is not enough, according to
Nugent, to condemn the planting of the mines or even to actively participate
in their removal.

"Beyond landmine removal, we must also be engaged in helping to replant and
till the soil, sowing the newly safe fields with seeds of grain and foods
for life," he said. "But then, even that is not sufficient. We must further
share the Gospel message with those with whom we have been engaged in
landmine removal and soil recultivation, so that they will understand and
comprehend the meaning of our replanting and the basis for our mission

The board has many opportunities for evangelization through missionary
leadership, church service institutions, United Methodist Women and the
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). With UMCOR, for instance, "the
Gospel is proclaimed and exemplified as relief is given, thereby opening up
the possibility for the strengthening of an already established church
presence or for the establishment of churches where none had existed before
or, in some cases, for re-establishing churches that may have been
destroyed," Nugent said.

He acknowledged that the Board of Global Ministries "will be walking a
delicate line" as it extends mission in areas that previously had been the
province of other religions or where Christianity had been forbidden or
unknown before. "There will be charges of proselytism, and the movement of
mission in the direction we have chosen will be criticized and even rejected
by some people," he said.

"But it must be recognized and understood that Gospel proclamation does not
infer or imply either cultural domination or triumphalism; rather it
expresses faithfulness," he added. "Mission is not the domination of others
but rather a proclamation to others and with others."

He stressed the need to continue to strengthen efforts to enlist
missionaries from a variety of cultures. "The missionary effort is at its
best when people are in mission in the same places in which they reside," he
explained. "The presentation of the Gospel is most effective and strong when
those who believe and proclaim and those who hear and believe are from the
same place of origin and residence." 

Beyond witness and proclamation, the church must set up the structures that
allow people to make a continuous response to Christ, Nugent said.

"Faith must be nourished to be sustained," he said. "Faith is nourished,
supported and sustained by worship, by corporate worship in the mutual and
supportive company of fellow believers."

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United Methodist News Service
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