Quadrennial Theme 2016 – 2020:
“THE FREEDOM CHURCH: REFOCUSING ON OUR PURPOSE, REVIEWING OUR PRACTICES, RETOOLING OUR PEOPLE , REACHING OUR POTENTIAL.”
The statements above were selected from “The Bishop’s Quadrennial Address” at the General Conference in 2016 in Greenboro, North Carolina.
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32 NLT)
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is our church. For many of us it is the church of our birth, for others, it is the church of their choice, and for all of us, it is the church we love. We have offered our lives and labor to its continued mission. More importantly and of greater significance and meaning than this church being “ours,” The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is God’s church. It is known to us and to many as “The Freedom Church,” and this we do not take lightly. The significance of this legacy now passed to us is precious and prized. We will not let it wane or die. The principle of freedom is inextricably bound with a profound sense of responsibility that calls us to face the challenge of how we may “serve the present age.” Our chosen quadrennial theme focuses on the concept of freedom and how the definition of being God’s church guides and informs our path forward in the 21st century and beyond.
Yet, while no church can ever claim to be perfect, the church must at least strive to be true. As the leaders and Chief Pastors of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, we take seriously the responsibility laid upon us by God and the church. As Dennis M. Campbell has said;
“The need for organization was not apparent to the earliest Christians since it was supposed that Christ would soon return to redeem his people. As time went on, and as second generation Christians were present, it was necessary to attend to structure, organization and planning for the future. It is a sociological truism that human communities must be organized for effective existence. Leadership is necessary for organizations to be effective. No human community can function devoid of leadership.” 
 Dennis M. Campbell, The Yoke of Obedience: The Meaning of Ordination in Methodism, Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1988, p. 29
Quadrennial Theme 2012 – 2016
“Fortifying Our Faith While Focusing on Our Future Through: Worship, Leadership, Discipleship and Stewardship.”
The statements above were selected from “The Bishop’s Quadrennial Address” at the General Conference in 2012.
This conclusion from the Board of Bishops Quadrennial Address of the 49th Session of General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church: “Zion, we will fortify our faith and secure our future only as we are persuaded and disciplined enough to pursue holistic Christian development, with the aid of the Holy Spirit. This will require faithful stewardship over all that God has entrusted to us, including our minds and scripture, and especially, the church, the ecclesia, the called out ones, the people, as well as the Institutional Church. If we spend time developing our minds through the study of God’s affirming, stimulating, authenticating, and liberating word, we will discover, with the psalmist, that God’s word is indeed, “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” (Ps 119:105). We will discover that stewardship as a way of life involves the understanding that everything we are and everything we have are gifts from God. Let everything we do – in our worship, in our leadership, in our discipleship, and in our stewardship – reflect back to God our profound gratitude for the life He gives and the love He continuously pours on us.”
Thus, as we embark upon another quadrennial, it is our hope that all of Zion’s Connectional Departments and Boards, ministers and congregations will employ the theme: “Fortifying Our Faith While Focusing on Our Future Through: Worship, Leadership, Discipleship and Stewardship.” There is strength, continuity in unity and re-enforcement.
Quadrennial Theme 2009-2012:
“Maximizing the Mission by Managing the Ministry”
focusing upon Education, Evangelism, Empowerment, and Expansion
The statements above were selected from “The Bishop’s Quadrennial Address”
at the General Conference in 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.
BUREAU OF EVANGELISM
Maximizing the Mission by Managing the Ministry
Maximizing Evangelistic Efforts Using the Master’s Model: The Right Moment, The Right Message and The Right Motives.
During the next four years, the Bureau of Evangelism of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church will endeavor to embrace the theme and the mandate given by the Board of Bishops to the 48th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Our desire is to maximize our evangelistic efforts using the example set forth in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Director of the Bureau of Evangelism, it is my desire that we as New Testament Evangelist in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church will become “Better Waterers, and Better Planters.” Apostle Paul writing to the church of Corinth gives us a valuable clue on increase and growth: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9
I believe church growth strategies and evangelistic campaigns succeed:
1) As the result of prayer
2) As the result of God’s grace and favor.
3) Depend on the choice of the right moment, the right message and the right method.
4) If we do not become discouraged by the rejection of the message.
5) If we as evangelist understand who we are and what we are to do.
6) When we have a proper attitude towards humanity.
Wanting our churches to grow is not enough we have to take intentional action to make it happen. Through training workshops we must develop healthy faith sharing congregations that will practice genuine hospitality thereby creating an atmosphere in which people feel welcome, feel that they belong and are good candidate to become Disciples.
Finally, I believe that any successful evangelism in the twenty-first century must include media ministry. Our denomination has responded to media ministry in a very limited way, while many evangelicals have fully embraced media ministry with great success. We have a message that must be heard. We must embrace the printed media, radio media, television media, internet media and use every available means to spread the gospel.
It was stated in the Bishop’s Quadrennial Address that Jesus initiated, invested, inspired, invited, instructed, and entrusted. Jesus personally encountered the presence and power of God before he launched his evangelistic ministry. Our personal experience will validate our witness. Jesus invested his time, resources and knowledge of God with those who chose to follow him and with those he sought to reach. He completely identified with them. Jesus moved with such enthusiasm that his followers wanted to do what he was doing, pray like he was praying and act like he acted. He inspired them to act. Jesus invited them to take part by giving them assignments. He set the parameters for their message and ministry. He continually instructed them and entrusted them with more and more responsibilities.
It is my desire that the Bureau of Evangelism will initiate, invest, inspire, invite, instruct, and entrust the members of Zion with the tools and methodologies that will aid in the ministry of Evangelism that the world may know Jesus Christ.
Quadrennial Evangelistic Theme 2005-2008:
“Quality Characteristics of Healthy Congregations”
The evangelistic theme for this quadrennium [2005-2008] is “Quality Characteristics of Healthy Congregations.” Each year we shall highlight two of the eight essential qualities of healthy and growing churches, as identified and described by Christian A. Schwarz in his book, Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches. The book is the result of an international research project in which Schwarz sought to discover universally applicable church growth principles. The study resulted into the most comprehensive research project of the causes of church growth ever undertaken. More than a thousand churches from a total of 32 countries on six continents were studied.
Quality Characteristic #1
Leaders that equip other to serve [Ephesians 4:12]
The first half of 2005 is devoted to the first of these eight quality characteristics, which is Empowering Leadership. Schwarz describes empowering leadership as follows:
“The key distinction is probably best expressed by the word ’empowerment.’ Leaders of growing churches concentrate on empowering other Christians for ministry. They do not use lay workers as “helpers” in attaining their own goals and fulfilling their own visions. Rather, they invert the pyramid of authority so that the leader assists Christians to attain the spiritual potential God has for them. These pastors equip, support, motivate, and mentor individuals, enabling them to become all that God wants them to be.”
Schwarz describes how empowering leadership helps to foster what he calls the “all-by-itself” principle. This principle recognizes that when soil has the proper nutrients, it grows all by itself. (Mark 4:26-29) In the same way, when a congregation has all the essential qualities it grows all by itself. He says:
“Leaders who realize their own empowerment by empowering others experience how the “all-by-itself” principle contributes to growth. Rather than handling the bulk of church responsibilities on their own, they invest the majority of their time in discipleship, delegation, and multiplication. Thus, the energy they expend can be multiplied indefinitely.”
The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy, his son in the ministry about the importance of empowering leadership. He writes, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) The example of Jesus is one of equipping His disciples to do ministry and empowering them to carry out His mission long after He was gone. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, stressed the use of lay leaders in the ministries of the church by both precept and example. One of his foundational principles fostered that the primary function of spiritual/educational leadership is to equip others to lead and minister, not to perform the ministry personally.
We see, then, that the best in Christian research urges us to embrace empowering leadership as an essential quality of a healthy congregation. The philosophical approach and the foundational principles of John Wesley challenge us to adopt empowering leadership as a leadership principle. The teachings of the Apostle Paul and the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ inspire us to practice empowering leadership as a biblical model. May we develop and promote empowering leaders throughout the length and breadth of the church.
Quality Characteristic #2
Tasks distributed according to spiritual gifts [1 Pet. 4:10]
Schwarz’s research reveals that healthy congregations assign tasks in the church on the basis of the spiritual gifts of the members. This is corroborated by the Scriptures. In 1 Peter 4:10, God gives us the following instruction, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” In addition to Christian commitment and moral character, an individual’s spiritual gifts should determine where he or she serves in the body of Christ. Overlooking any of these criteria has proven to be detrimental both to the church worker and to the congregation.
Two reasons stand out as it relates to the significance of gift-oriented ministry. The first is the positive difference it makes in the life of the Christian worker. It has long been proven that one of the most decisive factors in the proper assimilation of new converts is helping them find their rightful place in the body. Nothing fosters this more than their involvement in meaningful ministry within the church. Meaningful ministry is possible only when we are placed in an area of ministry consistent with the spiritual gifts with which God has empowered us. Consequently, our spiritual growth is enhanced; our faithfulness to attending the means of grace is increased; and our bond with the faith community is strengthened.
Second and more far-reaching is the difference that it makes for the congregation. In writing about spiritual gifts in particular, the Apostle Paul informs us in 1 Corinthians 12: 7, that “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” Our spiritual gifts are given to us primarily so that we can build up the body of Christ in general and our congregation in particular. Gift-oriented ministry is an indispensable part of a healthy congregation. One of the grave mistakes we have made in the past is to appoint or elect people to position of leadership or tasks in the church on the basis of popularity. The church has suffered greatly because of this practice. The most popular person may not be the person best equipped to serve. There is a place for that popular member, but it should be determined by his or her spiritual giftedness. Another serious error in judgment is the practice of appointing people on the basis of our ability to control them. Although this practice may yield some perceived short-term benefits, it does great harm to the church in the long run. Remember the criteria for leadership should always be threefold: Christian commitment, moral character, and spiritual gifts.
Still another fallacy is the assumption that the church can be run on natural talent. Our natural talents, which we received at our first birth, can be consecrated for use in the church. Great good can come from the use of the talents, which are given to us by God. Their weakness is that they cannot make the church grow. Our spiritual gifts, which we received at our second birth, can be discovered, developed, and used to edify the body of Christ. These gifts can be used to make a difference for the kingdom. Consequently, in healthy congregations, members not only utilize their natural talents, they use their spiritual gifts. They are given tasks and are placed in ministry where the gifts can be fully utilized. This is at the heart of lay empowerment. The growth of the church is phenomenal, because everyone is involved in ways that are fulfill to them and profitable for the congregation.
Quality Characteristic #3
Spiritual lives of the members typify prayer, enthusiasm, and boldness [Rom. 12:11, 12]
Quality Characteristic #4
Structures that are useful for church growth here and now [Mark 2:27]
Quality Characteristic #5
Worship is an inspiring experience for the church members [1 Thes. 5:16-19]
Quality Characteristic #6
Holistic Small Groups
Small groups that meet the real needs of its members [Acts 2:46-47]
Quality Characteristic #7
Evangelism that is related to the needs of the lost [1 Cor. 9:20-22]
Quality Characteristic #8
Church relationships that are characterized by love and affection [Jn. 13:34-35]
1Christian A. Schwarz, Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches (St. Charles, IL: Church Smart Resources, 2003), p. 22. 2Ibid, 23
Quadrennial Evangelistic Theme 2001-2004:
“Making Christian Disciples: A Mandate from Christ”
2001 Evangelizing the World with a Christ-Centered Gospel
Because evangelism is the first major step in fulfilling Christ’s mandate of making Christian disciples, in 2001, we want to stress the importance of aggressively taking the good news of Jesus Christ to people from every walk of life. The Christ-Centered gospel is indeed “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”[Romans 1:16] The Lord Jesus said that “the harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few.” [Luke 10:2] Christ revealed that the problem in evangelism is not with the harvest. The harvest is ready. People in the world are ripe for the gospel. The problem is with the laborers. There are too few of them willing to laborer in God’s harvest. Let us begin praying in earnest to the Lord of the harvest that He would send laborers into His harvest. Let us also hear and answer Christ’s call and become laborers sent into His harvest. Let us labor in the harvest with complete confidence in the gospel’s power to save those who believe it.
2002 Initiating Converts into a Christ-Centered Church
In 2002, we are stressing the importance of initiating those who make decisions for Christ into a local church where they can be nurtured to maturity in Christ. A significant part of fulfilling the Great Commission of making Christian disciples is that of baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 28:19] Baptism signifies our divinely appointed responsibility of initiating and assimilating converts into a Christ-Centered Church. A Christ-Centered Church is one that places disciple making at the heart of the church and keeps it there. It makes disciple making the church’s priority and passion, both in principle and in practice. A healthy and loving local church is the nurturing environment in which disciples are made.
2003 Teaching Believers to Obey Christ’s Commands
Central to the Great Commission given by the Lord Jesus Christ is the mandate to teach believers to obey everything that He has commanded. It is not enough for us to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that those who believe it might be converted and experience a new birth. It is not enough for us to initiate and assimilate converts into the nurturing environment of a Christ-centered Church. Our mission includes that of teaching these believers to incorporate into their lives the commands and principles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then can it be honestly said that these converts have been made into true followers or disciples of Christ.
2004 Training Disciples to Make Disciples
The most vital step in the disciple making process may very well be that of training disciples to make disciples. Disciple making is a cycle that is not complete until the individual who has been discipled is equipped and empowered to disciple others. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul says to Timothy, his son in the ministry, “and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.” (2 Timothy 2:2 NRSV) The church must not only make disciples, it must train disciple makers. Only then, can the church be assured that disciple making will be ongoing.