General Secretary challenges Church to take tough decisions for growth

Setting out a positive vision for the future, Revd Dr Martyn Atkins spoke of tough decisions ahead and his belief that the Church must change to fulfil its calling in contemporary society.

General Secretary Dr Atkins spoke of his hopes for the life, work, worship and mission of the Church in a report to the annual Methodist Conference, taking place this week in Southport.

"As disciples of Jesus we are called to become the Church God wants us to be," said Dr Atkins. "This will involve making some tough decisions. We don't have all the resources we would like to have but God has not given up on us. We must work hard to become a Church that demonstrates our faith through a commitment to justice and serving our local, national and international communities."

The wide-ranging report, entitled 'Contemporary Methodism: A discipleship movement shaped for mission' addresses issues from church buildings to evangelism and the nature of local ministry.

On property, Dr Atkins said: "We unquestionably have too many church buildings: too many in the wrong places, too many unfit to sustain our life as a discipleship movement shaped for mission today. We too readily associate the sustaining of the life of our chapels with the work of God's kingdom - these often overlap but they're not the same thing. A more sacrificial, strategic approach is needed. Our churches must not exist simply to perpetuate the status quo, but to provide a place where people can come to faith and be nurtured in their journey with Christ."

The report was warmly received by the Conference, which commended it to the whole Church for study, response and action. Working groups will now address some of the issues raised in the report, to bring concrete recommendations to a future meeting of the Methodist Conference. 

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