Global Methodist Church and a CEU requirementJanuary 26th, 2024
These are exciting and thrilling days for the new Global Methodist Church as a new body of Wesleyan believers are coming together to “worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly.” Thousands of churches have joined the new denomination, and over time, it will become the largest Wesleyan movement in the world. The convening General Conference will take place September 20–26, 2024 in San Jose, Costa Rica. This conference will be an important milestone in setting the trajectory of the denomination in exciting and promising ways. It is vital during these formative days that the founding DNA of the denomination be set right.
Central to the future prospects of the GMC will be our commitment to train pastors to be lifelong learners and adaptable to the ever-changing contexts which face us today. This begins, of course, with a well-trained clergy who are fully trained in historic faith, deeply rooted in biblical truths and understand the distinctives of Wesleyan theology. This, in turn, must be effectively applied to the particular challenges we face. But we can no longer view seminary training of clergy as an isolated time of study where you “pack your bag” for a lifetime journey in ministry. There is, of course, no replacement for a solid theological education as a foundation for effective ministry. But we also need ongoing training for both clergy and laity which will help us all to effectively navigate the difficult cultural and theological challenges which the church in every generation faces. Spiritual formation in the Wesleyan tradition has always been about the formation of the heart and the mind for effective ministry. We need to “learn extravagantly” as one expression of what it means to “worship extravagantly” since we are called to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Indeed, if our tradition teaches us anything, it is that Sanctification transforms the whole of who we are.
I recently had the privilege of participating in a meeting of the Resource Development Team of the GMC, which is exploring a wide range of strategies to bring together multi-lingual resources to equip the GMC around the world. I am very encouraged by these initiatives. It demonstrates the commitment of the GMC to life-long training, equipping and resourcing the church here and around the world.
One way this strategic initiative could be strengthened is for the GMC to consider some form of a Continuing Education Unit (CEU) or a ministry effectiveness plan (MEP) for all clergy in full connection with the church. Currently, the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline of the GMC does not require any ongoing training for clergy beyond the requirements set forth to become a Dean or an Elder in the church. This means, if I am understanding the Discipline correctly, no minister will be required to engage in any life-long learning or education once they are ordained. Would it not be advisable to seriously consider a life-long learning component for all ministers in the church? This could be provided through in-person training sessions, approved podcasts and “master classes” which could be made available to all conferences of the GMC for their clergy. Contextualized learning has been proven to be one of the most effective ways for people to learn. Let’s create a culture of ongoing growth in the GMC, not just in numbers of members or churches, but growing as men and women committed to giving ourselves fully to Jesus Christ.
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