We believe the Christian Church is the community of all true believers under the Lordship of Christ. We believe it is one, holy, apostolic and catholic. The church believes in one God that is over all, in all, and through all. The church is unified in the body of Christ. This church is holy in that it is serves as the body of Christ in the world; that is set apart for Christ’s work in the world. The church is catholic in that, while The United Methodist church is one specific denomination, we see ourselves in the arena of the church universal. The church is Christ’s church and is not limited to a specific set of people, in a specific place or time. The church is apostolic in that we are grounded in the witness of believers that we find in scriptures to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. According to the 2012 Discipline, the church is a “congregation of faithful men and women in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered according to Christ’s ordinance.” Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit the Church exists for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers and the redemption of the world.1 Corinthians 10:17 explains that “because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” This is an explicit statement of Christian unity in the body of Christ. The sharing and bonding experienced in Communion exemplifies the nature of the church and models the world as God would have it be.
The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Jesus tells us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Mat. 28:19-20). Earlier in Matthew, Jesus tells us that that greatest commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mat. 22:37, 39). With these two verses in mind, the mission of the church is to make Disciples of Christ by proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and by embodying Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor. The church’s mission is to share in the love and grace that God has given to us. Since God has blessed us with forgiveness and grace, we are to bless others with God’s grace and love. According to the Discipline, as long as this has been the mission of the church, God has used the church to “save persons, heal relationships, transform social structures, and spread scriptural holiness thereby changing the world.”
There are several primary tasks of the church today. These tasks include proclaiming, leading, nurturing, sending, and continuing. The first and foremost is to proclaim the gospel of Christ in order to gather persons into the body of Christ. Sharing God’s love and grace to all people is of upmost importance in the world. Another primary task of the church is to lead persons to commit their lives to God through baptism and a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Once we have led people to Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are then given the task of nurturing these people through worship, sacraments, Bible Studies, support, and any other means of grace that are necessary. It is imperative to the mission of the church to send people into the world in order to embody the love of Christ to others. Then, once we send persons out into the world, we must continue the mission in order to continuously seek, welcome, and gather persons into the one holy, catholic, apostolic church. Local churches accomplish this mission through working in their own communities, showing the love of Christ, and then sending other out into the world. It is through these tasks that we change oppressive systems, work for those who are in poverty, and bring hope to the hopeless. It is through these tasks that we truly live out our mission of transforming the world.
“Our Doctrinal Heritage” in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. (Nashville, The United Methodist Publishing House , 2012), ¶101.
“Our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules” in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. (Nashville, The United Methodist Publishing House , 2012), ¶103.
“The Mission and Ministry of the Church; Rational for Our Mission” in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. (Nashville, The United Methodist Publishing House , 2012), ¶121.
“The Mission and Ministry of the Church; The Process for carrying Out Our Mission” in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. (Nashville, The United Methodist Publishing House , 2012), ¶122.