Making disciples for Jesus Christ in 2011


     As soon as this new year arrived, someone for whom I have great respect shared a bold and hopeful prediction about what 2011 holds for the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church!     
     I was told to expect that our congregations will receive more new members by profession of faith in Jesus Christ than ever before. Of course, I responded with a joyous  Glory Hallelujah! I'll expect it and I'll work toward it!
    My prayer is that this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we will be challenged to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit's desire and power to make it so. After all, we United Methodists proclaim that the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  It is our sacred calling.  It is our holy task. It is our reason for being, and it is exhilaratingly fun.
There is nothing better for any local church, any Christian layperson, or any Christian pastor than to share the thrill of seeing another person come to accept God's mighty love as revealed most clearly in Christ.
    Vital congregations are fertile grounds for new Christians. Every congregation can grow by professions of faith unless every person in that congregation's ministry area is a professing Christian, and, even here in Georgia, I have never been to a place like that.
      Any congregation that is not receiving people into membership by profession of faith must sincerely pray for a revived movement of the Holy Spirit and seek whatever help it needs to become more vital. Any pastor who is not regularly receiving new members by profession of faith must ardently ask God to renew his or her ministry of personal evangelism and must do whatever it takes to become a channel for God's saving and redeeming grace to be accepted by those who have not yet experienced that joy.
      Evangelism is a ministry for us all.  There are some among us who are more gifted in it than others, but all of us have influence and God can use each of us to reach someone.  When we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves, we will find that the Holy Spirit works through us to enable others to profess faith in Jesus, our Lord.
      Now is the time for every congregation in North Georgia to be a vital congregation. Let us intentionally open our hearts, our minds, and our doors and receive precious souls by the profession of their faith in Jesus Christ.  Dear God, let it be so for every congregation and every pastor. Every one, Lord, every one.
Grace and peace,
Mike Watson
Resident Bishop
North Georgia Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church