Showing posts from 2011

Building for the Future -- Steps To Realign the Work of the General Agencies of The United Methodist Church

Four short months from now, the 2012 General Conference will be voting on legislation that will be the first step in moving the denomination toward a structure that realigns money and organizes the functions of the general agencies to better support annual conferences and local churches as they fulfill the goal of creating vital congregations. As the Council of Bishops has shared in an open letter, this legislation will lead us to a new church -- "one that is renewed and clear about its mission. A new church that is always reaching out, inviting, alive, agile, and resilient. We seek a church that is hope-filled, passionate, nimble, called of God, and courageous. This new church takes risks to reach new people for Jesus Christ, and it searches continuously for creative ways to help each person grow in grace, love, and holiness."

In order to bring us closer to the vision of this new church, here is a short list of what will be before delegates:

Give Annual Conferences freedom …

Steps to Build a Vital Congregation

Major plans for congregational development are under way for the Goromonzi Township in Zimbabwe. The community is filled with couples below the age of 40 who are African and highly literate. Church leaders there say new residential construction in the area has great potential for membership growth. Energetic church members are considered one of the strengths in this area; lack of funds presents the biggest challenge. Leaders are clear that their mission in the Goromonzi Township is to create new disciples and equip them with knowledge to continue reaching new members. Leaders hope to nearly double their average worship attendance and the number of people joining by profession of faith by 2015.

This single assessment is only a small portion of the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference Vital Congregations Strategic Plan. The Conference, led by Bishop Eben Kanukai Nhiwatiwa, is among the first to submit their overall vision to the Council of Bishops. The plan outlines how they will work wi…

Realizing the Future of The United Methodist Church

Actions taken by the Connectional Table during its July 27-28, 2011 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. have sent a ripple across The United Methodist Church. Members voted to support recommendations made by the Call to Action - Interim Operations Team that put in place the first steps for changing denominational processes and structures. I believe when United Methodists look back in time at the 2008-2012 quadrennium, we will see it as one of the most pivotal moments in our denomination's history. Even if the plan is not fully supported by General Conference, the conversations that have erupted around clergy appointments, streamlining resources and focusing our efforts on creating vital congregations have changed us. We can no longer ignore the need for action. I believe these are very good developments.

We are no longer talking in hypothetical terms. The Connectional Table voted to recommend the following items (click here to see the full PowerPoint report):

Redirect Use of Apportionments…

Working Toward the 2012 General Conference

The Connectional Table made important decisions during its May 9-11, 2011 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. that take us a step closer toward significant change in The United Methodist Church. We have been focused on laying the groundwork for implementing the Call to Action recommendations that will serve us well beyond the next quadrennium. This work centers on our collective adaptive challenge to focus resources, attention, and energy toward fostering vital congregations. It is a time of great excitement as well as anxiety since we do not know yet what the future holds. But we live in the faith that God is leading us to our future with hope.

World Service Budget

I want to share some highlights from the meeting. One of our main tasks this spring was to meet with members of the General Council on Finance and Administration to make decisions on The UMC’s 2013-2016 World Service budget. Thanks to the hard work and collaborative spirit of agency executives we reviewed a unified budget proposal.…

Making Disciples, Transforming Lives

In his book Five Practices of Fruitful Living, Bishop Robert Schnase tells the story of a woman named Helen who had lived her entire life in a Christian community of faith. He invites the reader to envision who this woman would be if you could take out the role the church has played in her life.

“Imagine if we could extract from Helen’s life all the formative worship experiences that impacted her,” he writes. He then lists in detail the many faith experiences and practices that composed her life. “We would not recognize her as the same person,” he concludes.

These words had a physical impact on me. In thinking over everything that takes place over the course of a Christian disciple’s life, and imagining it disappearing -- I felt as if I would shrivel up and blow away.

The Church has formed everything I am.

Holy Week begins for me with the reminder of my confirmation on Palm Sunday, the day that, at age 9, I claimed for myself the promises made at my baptism. Since that time, I have …

Understanding The Call To Action

November 2010 proved to be an inspirational month for the leadership of The United Methodist Church. Both the Council of Bishops and the members of the Connectional Table received and endorsed the Call To Action Report. The report was assigned by the Council of Bishops in 2009 and funded through the Connectional Table.

The study reveals God at work in transformational ways through The United Methodist Church. Opportunities for increasing our effectiveness and fruitfulness lie in the development and emphasis on increasing vital congregations.

The report calls for widespread reform and greater accountability at all levels of the church. The findings and recommendations are meant to guide and inspire the leadership of the denomination over the next decade. The question of "how" to increase vital congregations is still being formulated in this process. The question of "why" increase vital congregations has evolved over the past two quadrennia.

Following the 2004 Gene…