November 21, 2016

In an article written by Steve Beard, I read about an interview between Reverend Jorge Acevedo, senior pastor at Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida, and his friend, Reverend Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago, Illinois. During the interview, Bill recounted the passion and inspiration used to start his ministry at Willow Creek.
    
Bill shared that since age 17, he had a passion to create a “spiritually centered but outwardly focused” congregation. (I love that phrase; “spiritually centered but outwardly focused!”) Later, a college professor used the description of an Acts 2 church to fuel Bill’s passion and significantly change his future.
    
“There was once a worshipping community radically devoted to God. They were relentlessly committed to spread the Gospel. They were sewn together in a fellowship where they called each other brothers and sisters. They sold their property and possessions so that no one in the community would live with ongoing need. And gender walls came down and racial walls came down and socio-economic walls came down. And they experienced the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in community at a point in time.”
    
Today we live in interesting and confusing times where others may try to convince us that God no longer works in and through today’s church. 
    
It’s true that yesterday’s church is gone. But, tomorrow’s church is emerging today as God works through us to do new things. 
    
As your Bishop, I plead with you to join me and other recommitted followers in devoting ourselves to building and developing churches with the passion exhibited by the Acts 2 church and creating “spiritually centered but outwardly focused” congregations.
    
Over the next six months I am participating in listening sessions in your districts and churches that focus on “What is God’s will for Missouri people called ‘Methodists’?”     
    
The following questions will help guide our discussions, and the information gathered will be reviewed in search of God’s voice and His vision for Missouri.

  1. What is going well that we need to celebrate as a Conference?
  2. What could be done better or differently in the Annual Conference?
  3. What ministries do you feel we need to continue in the days ahead?
  4. What do you think are God’s hopes and dreams for Missouri? 
  5. What are your dreams for the future?
  6. If you were a newly elected Bishop, what would you do first?
Friends, I dream of a people who are “spiritually centered and outwardly focused.” I’m excited to meet fellow Missouri Methodists and listen for how God wants us to move forward. 
    
We do not have yesterday’s world, and I don’t know what tomorrow’s world will bring. Our reality is today. So, today, I want to do all the good I can; everywhere I can and as often as I can. Today, I want to do no harm. Today, I want to stay in love with God. Today, I want to reach people. 

In Christ,



Bishop Bob Farr
Missouri Conference of the 
United Methodist Church