Meditation Monday: Definition vs Meaning


Words take on a meaning when used in a sentence. Words by themselves have definition. But to have meaning they must be placed within a sentence with other words. Sometimes they can stand on their own.   “Go!” is a one-word sentence that has great meaning.

But most times the more words in the sentence the more meaningful the relationship. “Let us go!” There is greater context for better understanding.

As a church we cannot be an island unto ourselves. To have meaning we must venture into relationships with one another and others.

The meaning of our work at GCFA

Reading over GCFA’s Local Church Toolkits, a collection of local church statistics pulled together by our Data Services team, I am struck by how we define churches in this report by various measurements and graphs. These numbers are the “words” we use to describe an annual conference statistical circumstance.

Yet it is placing these numbers within the context of the Annual Conference’s interaction with the areas that are its mission fields that we gain the greatest meaning of what it means to be a local church in an annual conference. A church’s relationship with its people – both members and non-members – can be shown and understood through these measurements and graphs. Within those relationships we find the meaning of the church’s vision and mission, not solely the definition of it.

“Love” is a wonderful word. But “I love you” is even more meaningful and beautiful.

Let us Methodists not only “Love” but be, say, and act out “I love you” to the people of a hurting world.

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. I John 3:11

Dear God, you are the Most High. You are the I AM. Lord show us how to be like you So that not solely by definition are we Christians but by our meaningful interactions with one another do we find a life in Christ. Amen.

Denominational Data

Denominational Data

Gathering Denominational Data

The annual gathering and compilation of United Methodist church statistics requires the assistance of numerous people across the connection. We are deeply appreciative of those persons and their efforts. Our gratitude goes out to the pastors and other local church leaders who give their time and effort to complete the Annual Statistical Reports. Their attention to detail makes it possible to publish an accurate resource of United Methodist Church Data.

We are also thankful for all the annual conference secretaries, statisticians and treasurers for collecting and submitting the information for their annual conferences. The denomination-wide collection of this data would not be possible without their administrative ministries.

The assistance of all these people makes possible. Through their faithful and efficient work, UMData provides appointment information and statistical history of local churches, annual conferences, and jurisdictions. A sincere and heartfelt thank you to United Methodist employees who collect, vet and combine the voluminous information that makes United Methodist Data so readily available.

God bless you and may He continue to guide your work.