During a Q-&-A session at January’s UM Congress on Evangelism, Bishop Robert Schnase (Missouri Conference) noted that churches that engage in risk-taking mission must be willing to live with disappointment, failure, and uncertainty.
Bishop Schnase (Schnay’-zee) is the author of The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations (Abingdon, 2007). One of those five practices is “risk-taking mission and service.”
Part of the “risk” of real mission and service is the uncertainty of whether it will make any difference at all. I can’t tell you how many times we go to great lengths… to provide scholarships for people who then drop out.
Or we build a home after a flood, just to see the home wiped away the next year by the next flood.
Or we put ourselves on the line to work with somebody who’s on parole… to try to give this person some network of support and a better chance, and it goes well — until they walk off with the computer.
Or we work with somebody who’s dealing with alcohol and drugs… and they’re making it… and then we get that call in the middle of the night that [tells us] we’ve got to start all over again.
That’s part of the risk of risk-taking mission and service.
And that is as biblical as you can get. It’s like the sower sowing seeds. There’s rocky ground, there [are] the birds that come and eat is all, there’s the hard soil — there’s all of that. But the promise of that parable is that, by the grace of God, a harvest comes forth a hundredfold….
Part of the “risk” is that this doesn’t work a lot of times, or that the difference [we make] is something that we don’t see. We don’t know. We can’t see the results sometimes. But… out of obedience to Christ, we’ve got to try. And we’ve just got to keep doing it.
Use the audio player below to listen to a two-minute excerpt of Bishop Robert Schnase, recorded at the 2009 UM Congress on Evangelism in Nashville, Tenn.
Cokesbury offers a free discussion guide (PDF) to accompany the Five Practices book.
Bishop Schnase’s Five Practices Blog is here.
In addition to Bishop Schnase, this year’s speakers and workshop leaders included:
- Dr. Billy Abraham of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University (related post);
- Tyrone Gordon of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas, Tex.;
- Sue Nilson Kibbey of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio;
- Mike Slaughter, also of Ginghamsburg Church;
- Maxie Dunnam, chancellor of Asbury Seminary;
- Terry Teykl of Renewal Ministries;
- Kent Millard of St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis; and
- Karen Greenwaldt of the UM General Board of Discipleship.
|•||Bishop Robert Schnase on ‘The Five Practices’|
|•||Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’|
|•||Leading in the Wesleyan Way: Congress on Evangelism inspires laity, clergy | Amy Forbus, UMR Communications|