Dyersburg First UMC shares how it has embraced and run with message to SEE ALL THE PEOPLE
Lay and clergy leaders of Dyersburg First United Methodist Church embrace "See All The People" movement. (Submitted photo)
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article submitted by members of Dyersburg First United Methodist Church (UMC) in Dyersburg, Tennessee, explores by example what happens in a congregation inspired by its experiences at Annual Conference. Read how this congregation embraced the “See All The People” theme and message of the June 2018 Memphis Annual Conference in Paducah, KY.
By Cole Hamilton, Patti Lou Parker, Sara Wolfe
Dyersburg First United Methodist Church, Dyersburg, TN
Bishop Bill McAlilly invited speaker Dr. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, to lead 2018 Annual Conference teaching sessions focused on the SEE ALL THE PEOPLE movement -- to help disciples share Christ's message with a hurting world.
Visit www.seeallthepeople.org for more information about the movement.
Dotson gave 2018 conference attendees a few important reminders to refocus future efforts to grow the church. First, he warned that church leaders will too often pour their energy into "trying to fix the church,” by using a new, or newly revised, program or initiative. Second, he urged leaders to steer away from building the church, saying that “when leaders try too hard to 'build the church,' they will rarely get disciples. But when leaders focus on 'building disciples,' they will always 'get the church.'"
Profound and simple messages like these inspired Dyersburg First United Methodist Church'’s leaders to invest much time over the months after the 2018 Memphis Annual Conference to reframe Dotson's materials and content. They wanted to convert the message into a format group members could use to teach Sunday School classes/small groups throughout their home church.
The team was convinced that God's call meant churches would begin seeking out the unchurched and the unseen, and that classes like these would help that call come to life in the local church.
This unique effort did not go unnoticed. Discipleship Ministries gifted Dyersburg First UMC with over $800 in free books and materials on the SEE ALL THE PEOPLE theme. This demonstrated the broader UMC's confidence that God uses local churches to make a difference, and served as a visible sign of their willingness to help that happen.
While grateful for the free books, the main goal of Dyersburg First UMC leaders went well beyond a free handout and was more akin to reaching out and igniting similar sparks in others.This meant their work would affect not only the local church, but The United Methodist Church’s global connection.
So the group gathered most recently to bring together every person’s best practices from teaching the curriculum into a “second edition” of the four-week curriculum.They hope to take this and pass it on through district and conference channels. They want to help other churches be able to use great materials like these at little or no cost, so they too may begin to SEE ALL THE PEOPLE.
In the end, this group proves that delegates and attendees to Annual Conference must do more than simply hear a message and return home. The church must pay attention to how God uses what early Methodists called "Holy Conferencing," and then the local church must act. It must strive to make disciples who transform the world and realize this goal can happen only when they SEE ALL THE PEOPLE.