Early last year I was asked to write a chapter for a book, The Future of the United Methodist Church—Seven Vision Pathways, to emphasize the importance of Transforming Existing Congregations. I shared some brief stories about congregations in Missouri and about some of our strategies and approaches in the Missouri Conference. The book has now been released by Abingdon Press and is available from Cokesbury, and I received a copy this past week.
As I re-read what I had written, it occurred to me that this chapter provides a framework and interpretation for much of our work together during the last six years in the Missouri Conference. Why do we do what we do? Why the Healthy Church Initiative, the Pastoral Leadership Development Groups, the Lay Leadership Development groups, the Small Church Initiative? Why the consultations and coaches and prescriptions? Why all the talk about fruitfulness, excellence, accountability, and collaboration? Why have we stopped doing some things and started doing others? Why have we changed our structures, realigned our budget, and refocused our energies? The chapter lays the foundation for many of these changes.
With Annual Conference approaching this weekend, I’ve decided it might be helpful for a wider audience to reflect upon this chapter. I’ve asked Abingdon Press for permission to place a copy of this chapter on our website so that people can read it. You will find it by clicking here.
Because the chapter was written nearly eighteen months ago, some of the statistical information about the churches I use as examples is now a little dated. The numbers and results for these congregations in particular, and for congregations in Missouri in general, are moving in a far more positive direction than most conferences in the United States.
Take a look. I hope you find the chapter to be a helpful synopsis of our recent journey and of what we are learning as we seek to serve Christ together in the Missouri Conference.
Yours in Christ,