The United Methodist News Service notes that “[p]ublisher Abingdon Press has sold nearly 75,000 copies of the Five Practices book, and demand is hot for the companion leader manual and media kit and church-wide devotional book, Cultivating Fruitfulness. More than 2,000 congregations have used the material in some fashion.”
Speaking last week at the United Methodist Congress on Evangelism in Nashville, Bishop Schnase (Schnay’-zee) explained that the five practices — radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity — are “the fundamental activities by which congregations carry out their mission.”
When I talk about radical hospitality, it’s got to pervade the whole life of the congregation — every cell has to vibrate with… [an] outward focus…. Churches that practice [radical hospitality] are constantly examining every one of their ministries and saying, “How do we become more… attuned to the call of God to reach out to other people?”…
When I talk about passionate worship, I’m talking about worship that is authentic, that is true to the gospel, that is life changing. Worship that we enter into with an air of anticipation that something significant might actually happen in this time together…. I’m talking about worship that really connects people to God….
Intentional faith development has to do with all those things that a congregation offers to help people grow in faith outside of the Sunday morning service…. [This] is central to our self-understanding as United Methodists, of the sanctifying grace of God…. And churches that are vibrant, fruitful, and growing are those that provide rich opportunities constantly for people to grow and mature in the faith….
But you can’t go very far in engagement with Scripture, or learning in community, growing in Christ — this “inner holiness” — without being struck by a call of God to make a positive difference in the lives of people around you.
And that leads us to risk-taking mission and service…. [These are] the things we do out of our commitment and obedience to Christ that we would not have done if we had never known Christ…. Risk-taking mission and service stretches us, and churches that practice risk-taking mission and service… [are] looking at the gifts and abilities of the people in their congregation and the needs of their community and the world, and they’re [asking], “Where do these intersect?”…
Now, extravagant generosity. I’ll just say it up front, what I’m talking about is teaching, preaching, and practicing the tithe, among other things — and just being unapologetic in our proclamation of that. Churches that are growing and vibrant and fruitful talk about generosity — not about the church’s need for money, but about the Christian’s need to give. They focus on generosity as an aspect of Christian character…. The practice of tithing — of putting God first in everything — starts changing how we feel and experience everything else.
Use the audio player below to listen to a 12-minute excerpt of Bishop Schnase at the 2009 Congress on Evangelism.
Bishop Schnase’s Five Practices Blog is here.
In addition to Bishop Schnase, this year’s speakers and workshop leaders included Tyrone Gordon of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas, Tex. (summary of remarks); Sue Nilson Kibbey and Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio; Maxie Dunnam, chancellor of Asbury Seminary (summary); Terry Teykl of Renewal Ministries; Kent Millard of St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis; and Karen Greenwaldt of the UM General Board of Discipleship.