United Methodist’s focus for the next 4 years

I traveled with the Alaska delegation to the United Methodist Quadrennial Training event in Jacksonville this past weekend. There were 1200 UM clergy and lay leaders from around the country. We met to follow up on General Conference initiatives.

Our focus for the next four years:
1. Develop more leaders
2. Create new places for new people
3. Eliminate poverty
4. Improve healthy globally

It’s a tall order!

Long post ahead…notes from sessions for those interested.

Leadership Development

  • Annual Conferences: put your money where your mouth is. If you really want your conference youth to thrive, hire a full time conference youth/young adult leader.
  • Invite young adults to serve on conference committees that are of interest to them. Be sure meeting times are mindful of young people’s schedules.
  • Offer Life Skills events – encourage holistic living
  • Invite responsibility, give and share power


  • Invest financially in candidates’ and clergy’s current and future development
  • Support candidates financially during or after seminary
  • Demonstrate your investment in candidates by visiting them at their seminary campus
  • Allow for candidates to take a non-traditional route to ordination
  • Communicate timelines & deadlines in writing
  • Give candidate one person to contact
  • Work diligently with the Bishop & Cabinet to communicate gifts & skills and ideal appointment settings for new clergy
  • Be clear about your annual conference’s process and provide sound reasoning for the requirements your annual conference expects candidates to fulfill
  • Fill young clergy appts. first based on their career development needs & goals (don’t place young clergy last solely based on salary level)
  • Demonstrate your conference’s commitment to young clergy by placing them in conference leadership positions
  • Reward effective young clergy in their appts, salary & annual conf. leadership tasks
  • Demonstrate a direct link between performance and rewards (appts, higher salaries, etc)

Bottom Line: Invest your money, time and human resources in young adults = more young clergy

Starting New Faith Communities

  • Be very intentional about screening new church pastors – do 3-4 days of assessment, will save thousands of $$’s down the road
  • Some are great pastors, but not planters
  • Invest in pastors – boot camp
  • Support new start pastors
  • Communicate very clearly what DNA is transferred & what’s organic
  • Be a community leader – GET OUT in the community
  • Before appointment is read – bring in leadership from area churches & ask for support (prayer, housing, etc) – meet again before July 1 – sign covenant – don’t just meet with the senior pastor (they forget)
  • DS, Conference person, churches hear planter share timeline & strategy (18-24 mos) – meet every 3-4 mos. – strategy review
  • How many small groups should you have before you launch?
  • Minimum district & conference $$ to launch = average of $236,000 over 3-4 yrs
  • Parachute drops are very expensive
  • Tent-making – someone keeps a day job while starting a church
  • Pastors lead dying church as day job and start church as ministry job
  • We’re not going to get out of this mess until we legislate our way out of it – that’s how we got there
  • Many people are not getting ordained because contexts are so unique & new
  • How do we address failed church plants in healthy ways?
  • Ask dying churches two questions: Do you want to live or die? Are you willing to change?
  • Create culture on conference level that you’re looking for planters & pastors
  • Youth leaders needs to identify teens with pastoral gifts early on – take the next step and suggest they think about becoming a church planter
  • Affinity: what kind of people do I draw?
  • If you’re conference is desperate for a successful church plant – be very careful to not
    move too quickly – can’t want a quick victory
  • Form a team with business people, planters, community developers, financial
  • Florida Conference won’t charter a church until it has 350 people in worship
  • If you’re going to pay a coach, listen to them
  • Large churches have to start churches because their competition is starting churches
  • One church partnered with Southwest Airlines to learn how to create a new culture
    Large church decided to become a Methodist church for the unchurched – changed everything they did
  • Pastor casting vision every week as they prepare to launch a new campus – entrepreneurial visitors love that and want to stay around and help
  • Haven’t heard one positive thing about a parachute drop – most people preferring mother-daughter
  • Some bishops upset when large church attendance numbers go down because they send people to start new churches – need to affirm churches who are starting new communities
  • How do more Board of Ordained Ministries learn to appreciate entrepreneurs?
  • If you love people more than you stretch them, you’ll be known as their chaplain
    If you stretch people more than you love them, you’ll be known as their former pastor. Need to do both.
  • Chaplaincy model is rewarded in the system
  • Multiply existing churches vs. start brand new standalone churches

Eradicating Poverty

  • Rev. Ed Paup: Look boldly at the faces of poverty. Let those faces look back at us.

Church Responses to the Poor
1. Hear the poor
2. Accept the poor
3. Serve the poor

We must…
1. Embrace the poor as part of the family of faith
2. Confront the systems
3. Do more than charity
4. Acknowledge the link between poverty & health

  • John Wesley: We must abundantly converse with the poor
  • John Wesley: I’m sorry you’re content with lower values of usefulness than what you are called to
  • Self-sustaining (creative ways of bringing in money) vs. Self-sufficient (just pay bills)
  • We need to start churches among the poor, not just the suburbs
  • 30,000 kids die quietly every day in poverty
  • Honor God in others
  • http://www.westohioumc.org/ has a 5 week Bible study on poverty
  • Get out in your community and determine the needs
  • If you want to end poverty, provide jobs
  • Connect goods & services to the church
  • Why is it so much easier to serve in other countries, but not our own community? Our people want a relationship & we’re not willing
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Troy conference requires candidates for ministry participate in international or cross- cultural experience before getting ordained – must share that
  • Our kids see this differently than us – they’re willing

Improving Health Globally

  • Wesley so integrated God’s grace that he blended health & faith before he said it out loud
  • We are already winning – great advances are being made
  • In the last 100 years, life span has advanced 37 years
  • Social infrastructure in neighborhoods of the world – web of trust, compassion & faith
  • Science can’t make the last mile into neighborhoods – only movement of thousands of vital congregations can
  • You can’t just do one Millenium Development Goal at a time
  • The early quick successes just cost money – things done by big agencies
    Build schools, immunizations, bed nets
  • Goals that lag depend on more than money
    Food to families, girls to schools, breaking silence about stigmatized diseases
    US farmers dropping subsidies that trap Africans in unfair competition
    Ending rural oppression that feeds urban slums
  • Opposite of social injustice = bephelo
    Health comes from relationships in our lives that give us life & wholeness
    Before we need treatment or program
    One can’t say Bophelo and mean faith without health, health without faith
  • Covenant between pastors in town
  • Assets are only accessible across human webs of trust – that’s what gets science into the hands that need it
  • How do you have an outbreak of life? Instead of starting with a negative epidemic
  • Wesleyan Epidemic: 22nd century integrated world view based on grace, love, service, reasons, small group social accountability, communications, justice
  • “There’s no reason on earth that this Wesleyan epidemic can’t finish this fight”
  • See the power and relevance of our assets, to get science and faith into neighborhoods, especially through our 8 million people
  • The whole Methodist movement is for health, even to where the ends of the globe we touch each for God’s hope for wholeness.

One thought on “United Methodist’s focus for the next 4 years

  1. Thanks for taking good notes. It makes almost like I was there. Some very interesting challenges mentioned. It will certainly be interesting to see where we are in four years.


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