Sunday, May 11, 2008

United Brethren?

Those of you who are members of PCC know that our church is affiliated with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA, a denomination of about 200 churches (located primarily in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) headquartered in Huntington, IN. Those of you who don't know that are probably thinking, "What in the world are United Brethren?" We don't push our denominational label much because we believe it's our job to lead people to a relationship with Christ, not to lead them to a denomination. On the other hand, we affiliate with a denomination because we find it beneficial to do so for a number of reasons.

What probably none of you know is that the denominational offices have recently undergone a "re-branding." They no longer refer to themselves as the UB Headquarters, UB offices, or (for the more sarcastic among us) "Mecca." Instead, they are "Healthy Ministry Resources." This is how they answer the phone, what they put on the letterhead, and what they have on the sign out front. See??

Maybe you're one of those that thinks, "Big, hairy, flippin' deal. Who even knew what the old UB Headquarters sign looked like anyway?!" You probably don't spend hours perusing the UB website, and you don't call Huntington on the phone even on a weekly basis. Come to think of it, neither do I!

But this actually is a big deal whether you know it or not. This is not primarily about a sign, a logo, or how to answer the phone--it's about a philosophy. Our denominational leadership believes that the only purpose they exist is to resource the local church--to support, equip, and mobilize us toward health and fruitfulness. This is actually the opposite approach taken by most denominations, which seem to assume that the local churches exist to fund and resource the denominational structure.

As our bishop, Ron Ramsey says, "Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples. That is our mission. And the humble local church, existing in thousands of varieties around the world, is Christ's front-line vehicle for carrying out that mission... Healthy Ministry Resources is not a church. Jesus never said, 'I will build my denominational headquarters, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' No, we are a man-made institution. The only reason we exist is to undergird local churches. It's not about us. It's about the churches we serve." (my emphasis)

Isn't that cool? As a result, the denominational offices are focusing exclusively on serving and resourcing local churches to be more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission. I think we can be grateful for denominational leadership that take such a humble approach.

I'd encourage you to take some time and check out what's going on. This philosophy really tells you everything you need to know about the United Brethren Church: it's all about being effective for Christ's kingdom.

Here are some other related websites:

1 comment:

Pastor Scott said...

Hey everybody, check out what the bishop wrote about this post on his blog! (Isn't it cool to know the bishop reads this thing? Makes you want to post a comment or something!)