In recent months there has been a great deal of conversation throughout the United Methodist Church about the future of our church. Spurred by concerns over continuing church decline, and the Call to Action project of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, people throughout the church have been talking over meals and via Facebook about their hopes and dreams, and their fears and concerns about where the UMC is headed. For the Council of Bishops, this conversation has evolved into the Vital Congregations initiative — an effort to translate the learnings from the Call to Action study into measurable, quantitative practices upon which to hold church leaders accountable. These measures are a step in helping our church address the adaptive challenges that we face.
In parallel with that conversation, a group of clergy and laypersons have been thinking intentionally about the underlying mission of the church. Spurred by conversation throughout various Christian groups around the “missional church,” this group believed that it was important to identify common values as United Methodists which provide meaning and purpose to the practices of vitality. It was in the longing for a statement of vision and values that the Missional Manifesto for the People Called United Methodists was born.