The general secretary of Discipleship Ministries says he’s “extremely pleased” with the first year of the See All the People initiative.
“It resonates with the average person in the pew about the need to engage the community, to engage people outside the church, to engage people who claim no religious preference and consider the church to be irrelevant,” the Rev. Junius Dotson said.
Dotson, who was selected for the Discipleship Ministries position two years ago, made his first public presentation in Wichita since leaving his post of 14 years as senior pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church.
His presentation April 28 was part of Men Make the Difference, a Christian men’s gathering hosted by Wichita Calvary UMC. In past years, the gathering has raised money for Christian college scholarships and community service.
See All the People, a movement steered by Dotson, calls for churches to reach out beyond their walls and into their communities. It has a strong social media presence using the hashtag #SeeAllThePeople.
Dotson said he’s pleased with the grassroots movements that have started from See All the People.
“It’s really resourcing from the bottom up,” he said. “It’s a paradigm shift. It’s not a top-down thing, where a group of experts are saying ‘This is the only way to do it’ or ‘This is the right way to do it.’”
Dotson said Discipleship Ministries has collected a library of intentional discipleship movements from across the country, from a church on the south side of Chicago that brought its communion outside that resulted in neighbors taking the sacraments, to a church in a small Minnesota town that sponsored an ice cream social credited with increasing its attendance from four to 50.
A number of annual conferences have shifted to the intentional discipleship model, Dotson said, with more planning to make the shift after their sessions this summer.
Dotson will also follow up his initial book, “Developing an Intentional Discipleship Program: A Guide for Congregations” with a second publication, more of a workbook, due this summer. It will include instructions for neighboring initiatives such as prayer walks and block parties, he said.
The central conferences are also going to be involved in the initiative, he said.
“I believe they have a lot to teach the U.S. as well,” Dotson added.
While some churches and conferences have embraced the See All the People concept – in her introduction of Dotson, the Rev. Ashley Prescott Barlow-Thompson, a deacon serving Calvary UMC, said she uses the principles every day – others have yet to take the step.
Dotson said it’s easy, but does require a different mindset.
“You just have to say, ‘We’re going to go outside of our box,’” he said. “We’ve got to take a step outside our comfort zone and we have to start engaging people.”
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