Stewards of the Vision


by Rev. Meredith E. Hoxie Schol, Ph.D.
Director of Communication & Research 
Last week I had the opportunity to join the new District Superintendents and Directors of Connectional Ministries for their orientation week in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.  The CT Staff has been a part of the faculty for the new DCM track of this event for the past few years, and each year it proves to be a rich opportunity to connect with leaders who have a similar, connectional functions within our church. 

Our time together focused on the strategies and best practices for navigating their new role as “stewards of the vision.”  I was able to share with them some of the ways the Connectional Table is also seeking to steward resources toward our missional priorities.  We continue to focus on bearing fruit in the Four Areas of Focus, and we are designing assessment and evaluation tools to help us measure our collective progress in this work. 

The keynote speaker at the event was Rev. Lisa Greenwood from the Texas Methodist Foundation. She spent time helping leaders understand the importance of articulating their aspirations, priorities, and outcomes.  Rev. Greenwood shared with us the definition of “outcomes” used by Texas Methodist Foundation.  While we (the CT) haven’t used this definition explicitly, I found this articulate helpful for our work as well.  They define an outcome as: 

“The difference that you believe God has called you to make in this next chapter of your life.”

The “YOU” here is collective.  We know as disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to make a difference – to transform the world.  We must actively discern the ways God is calling us to carry out this work.  These outcomes are also time-bound. They are, as Rev. Greenwood said, “proximate steps” that we can see, and measure, that bring us closer to the priorities and aspirations we have articulated at General Conference. 

The UMC aspirational mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  In order to focus our collaborative, connectional ministries to fulfill this mission, UM leaders articulated Four Areas of Focus in 2006 that represent missional expressions of our Wesleyan identity and help us to define our scope and align our resources.  When we do the hard work of articulating more specific, concrete outcomes, we can be more effective with the resources with which we have been entrusted.  In our work, we have defined strategic directions in each focus area that serve as these internal benchmarks for our collaborative ministries. 

The role of the Director of Connectional Ministries varies by conference, but they all work on the development, clarification, interpretation, and embodiment of the vision. As “stewards of the vision,” DCMs are keenly aware of the need for focused strategic planning and a refined scope of mission.  The CT plans to be in regular contact with these connectors in the Annual Conferences in the coming months, partnering with them in the roll out of the Connectional Assessment tool.   We hope these partnerships and this tool will generate the data and strengthen the connections needed to be better stewards of more holistic, integrated resources to achieve the desired outcomes across the worldwide connection.

I left the DS/DCM Orientation event encouraged by The United Methodist Church’s ongoing investment in equipping key leaders of the church to be more strategic in their planning.

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