Why General Conference Matters (or should) to UMC Youthworkers

When I was in the local church, I didn’t pay much attention to General Conference – the every-four-year-mostly-legislative-meeting of United Methodist delegates to decide what would be in the next Book of Discipline. I taught about General Conference in confirmation, I read the headlines that would invariably show up in the press about the more controversial issues addressed by the assembled delegates, and when it was all over, I continued doing the “real ministry” of the local church.


As the leader of Young People’s Ministries at GBOD, I am about to experience my second General Conference up close and personal.  Here are some reasons I think a local church youth minister should be paying attention:
This event represents who we are as a church. It is the official face of the United Methodist Church to the world and there will be delegates from across the world. Nhoris who is a teacher and youth leader in the democratic of the Congo, Earlie who is a former national youth president in the Philippines, and Bethany who is a young adult from the United States will all be sitting down together with other UM leaders from around the globe to try to bridge language and cultural barriers to discern where God is calling the church into the future. They, and all of the other delegates need your prayers as they seek to shape a church that can be more vital in our world.

Young people speak! The Young People’s Address on Wednesday Morning, April 25th is a time when you can hear (in person or online) Joy Eva Bohol (young adult) from the Philippines and Krin Ali (high school senior) from the US invite all of us to join together in a faith journey that fully recognizes the importance of young people. Joy may be doing her part of the address from the screen because of the inability of her to get a visa to be in Tampa in person.

Big changes may be coming. There are a number of proposals to make significant changes in the structures of our church. In the past three years, Young People’s Ministries has been able to increase almost ten-fold the number of people we are in direct ministry with in spite of significant budget cuts. The future of regional staffing and the next level “Field Guide Network” that mobilizes local church ministry leaders like you to share your expertise across the UM connection are dependent upon the decisions made this week.

You can get the General Conference app at the itunes store. You can keep up by following the streaming at UMC.org<http://UMC.org>. You can join thousands across our connection in the prayer ministry leading up to General Conference at http://50daysofprayer.upperroom.org/. The connectionalism our church offers is a tangible way to live as a part of the global body of Christ. General Conference is only one way that is lived out in our church, but it is an important way.

RatliffMichael Ratliff

Associate General Secretary, DMYP
Telephone: 615-340-7079
Toll Free Number: 1-877-899-2780, ext. 7079
E-mail: mratliff@gbod.org

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