Keynote Address

The Mid-Winter Institute

Elm Park United Methodist Church

February 1, 2020


To keynote the theme of the Mid-Winter Institute, “Vision 2020 and Beyond,” I want to address the “mission” on which we as Christians—including but not limited to Methodist and United Methodist Christians—have been sent. As Lovett Weems wrote, “vision” describes what hope to be within the foreseeable future, while “mission” defines who we are, why we exist, and what is our purpose. To be able to see what we hope to become and to achieve, we need to know why God brought us into being as the church. The words of the risen Lord Jesus in the gospels and in the book of Acts provide us the purpose for which we have been sent into the world. If we clearly express our mission, we can clearly capture the vision of what we will accomplish. When we are faithful to the mission, we can frame the vision toward which we are moving.

The basis upon which we can glimpse a vision for 2020 and beyond, therefore, is the mission on which God has sent us. We exist as Christians and we are created to be the church by virtue of being sent into the world with the power of the Holy Spirit to cross every boundary, to confront every sin, and to care for all of God’s people. We know that, after all, because we have the word of the risen Lord Jesus for it. Throughout the ages of the faith, great church leaders have reminded us of our mission. One leader, John Wesley, told the Methodists that our mission is to reform the continent and spread holiness over the land. That is our purpose and our identity. If we know who we are and why we exist, our vision for this year and beyond will be clear indeed.