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"Seven Levers charts a clear and compelling course for annual conferences and other judicatories."
Associate Director of Church Development
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Lewis Center for Church Leadership
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Pre-Launch Strategies and Benchmarks
This form is used by the planting pastor and supervisor of new church development to establish clear expectations, benchmarks, and milestone events before a new church is launched. Regular supervisory reviews are held to assure that the expectations are met. Sometimes benchmarks are adjusted because of context or unexpected changes. However, if a new church start fails repeatedly to reach benchmarks and milestones, conference funding ends.
Strategy Review Report for New Church Starts
This instruments guides the conversation between church planter, superintendent, support team, and new church start supervisor regarding progress with strategies and benchmarks.
2014 New Church Start Related Events
A large network of new church planters, supervisors for new churches, and senior pastors of churches planting churches thrives and offers resources to churches and conferences. This is a list of 2014 events to serve as an example of the variety of connections for those who want to know more.
National Network of UM Congregational Developers
This flyer for a May, 2014, event in Kansas City illustrates another example of the networks and resources that support new church starts.
Boot Camp—Preparation for Church Planters
The Missouri Conference collaborates with other conferences in the jurisdiction on a variety of new church start training events annually. Boot Camp is the training for those people identified and appointed to new church starts. We use resources from Jim Griffith, a long-time leader and trainer in the field of church planting. Here is a link to his site:
The Missouri Conference relies on demographics supplied through Mission Insite for helping identify potential areas for new church starts. We also use these demographics in our conversations and evaluations with congregations, in our Right Start events for pastors moving to a different appointment, and in our Healthy Church Initiative consultations. The following link takes you to Mission Insite for more information.
Path One—General Church Initiative
Path One is the general church initiative for new church starts, coordinated through the General Board of Discipleship. Path One offers a variety of resources for conferences related to church planting. Here is the link:
Examples of Missouri New Church Starts
The following links are to several new church starts in Missouri. As you review the websites, think about how different the approach and mission field are for new churches as compared to existing congregations. New churches focus more on the unchurched, on younger generations, and on segments of the population that established churches have difficulty reaching.
Morningstar New Church Start Send-Off Video
Morningstar UMC started fifteen years ago and enjoys over 2,000 in average worship. The congregation has now begun to start new congregations at the rate of about one every two or three years. Here is the good-humored send-off video they prepared as their associate pastor, Jimmy Cooper, prepared to launch the newest church. The group near the end of the video is the launch team from Morningstar
Pastor Leadership Development Groups–PLD Session 1
This provides an example of the sessions from the manual used by pastors who participate in Pastor Leadership Development groups. This is from Session I of our first iteration of PLD.
Pastor Leadership Development Groups—PLD NEXT Facilitator Guide Session 1
As PLD matured and more people participated, we decided to offer a second year course called PDL NEXT. This is a sample session from the Facilitator Guide.
Small Church Initiative—SCI Overview
We developed a Healthy Church Initiative model for smaller churches, with sixty or fewer in attendance, that uses the same ideas and readings as HCI but which meets with several churches together. Here is an overview of the Small Church Initiative.
HCI Consultation Reports
The Consultation Weekend of the Healthy Church initiative culminates with a formal report presented by the consultants to the congregation. The report names areas of strength and concerns, and then presents five specific prescriptions. The congregation has a few weeks to discuss and consider the prescriptions, and then they are asked to vote up or down on the entire list at a called session of the church conference. If they accept the prescriptions, the congregation receives a coach and the pastor enters a peer mentoring group as support in following the prescriptions. Below are Consultation Reports from two congregations.
Mystery Visitors Reports
Each congregation that participates in the Healthy Church Initiative will receive a Mystery Visitors report. Like mystery shoppers in the world of retail, the mystery visitors are multiple trained people who engage the congregation numerous times over a series of weeks as visitors, callers, etc, at worship, in small groups, and other ministries. No one at the church knows who or when visitors may appear, and the final report is presented at the consultation weekend. Below is a sample Mystery Visitors Report from Good Shepherd UMC, Kansas City.
Healthy Church Initiative Preparation Checklist
This checklist is used by the consultant and pastor to prepare for an HCI Consultation Weekend. It lists the preparation a congregation must undergo to accept an consultation.
Healthy Church Initiative Pre-Consultation Overview
A Pre-Consultation meeting is held six weeks before an HCI Consultation Weekend to prepare a congregation for a successful experience. People are reminded of their tasks, and information is given about the process, and basic information about church systems and processes are introduced. Attached is an outline and purpose statement for the event.
Healthy Church Initiative–Day of Prayer and Repentance
An important aspect of HCI is the spiritual preparation of the congregation. A outside consultant, preacher, or teacher leads the Day of Prayer for the congregation. Attached is an overview of the purpose and content of the Day of Prayer and Repentance.
Overview of Clergy Systems- Video Introducing Clergy Systems
This brief video includes Robert Schnase describing the fourth lever, a strategy for reforming clergy systems.
Overview of Clergy Systems- PowerPoint
This brief series of powerpoint slides can be used for those who want to introduce the various components of the clergy systems as they begin discussion of this lever.
Overview of Clergy Systems- Clergy Deployment Study
Clergy Deployment Study—in May, 2012, the Missouri Conference contracted with the Lewis Center for Church Leadership to provide an analysis and recommendations related to the patterns of clergy deployment for the future, entitled Changes in Congregations, Clergy, and Deployment 2002-2012, and the attached charts. All conferences in the South Central Jurisdiction had such a completed, and the results help in evaluating and planning for how to reform clergy systems.
Overview of Clergy Systems- Ecosystem as a New Paradigm of Clergy Systems
Bishop Janice Huie, in this essay entitled "A New Paradigm for Clergy Leadership: Cultivating an Ecosystem of Excellence," invites us to think in fundamentally different ways about how we cultivate clergy, leaving behind the old "clergy pipeline" metaphor for a fresh understanding of ecosystems.
Recruitment- The Hannah Project
The Hannah Project invites congregations to participate in identifying gifted people for ministry and to stimulate consideration of a call to Christian service. This brochure serves to introduce the program to congregations in the Missouri Conference.
Recruitment- Conference Website on The Call to Ministry
The Missouri Conference designed this website for those in the early stages of discerning a call to ministry who are looking for resources or ideas. We've used video of clergy to help people explore their call.
Recruitment- Exploration Events
The Missouri Conference encourages young people to attend the biennial Exploration event sponsored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. We also launched our own conference-wide Exploration events for people of all ages contemplating the call to ministry. Attached is a brochure and outline of the event, which is held in years when a national event is not offered.
The Candidacy Process- The Candidacy Summit
Because the responsibility for candidacy rests with District Committees, we have struggled to bring consistency to the process across twelve districts. We now offer a Candidacy Summit that brings all candidates together in one place to receive common information and complete required forms and psychological profiles in one retreat, supported by clergy and with excellent music and worship.
The Candidacy Process- Path for Candidacy
Here's our checklist, similar to that of many other conferences, which we provide to help candidates understand and navigate the complexities of the ordination processes.
Seminary Education- Frederick Schmidt Article
The website, www.patheos.com, includes a number of excellent articles about the future of seminary education. While I disagree about a few of Dr. Schmidt's recommendations, I find his description of the challenges compelling and helpful.
Seminary Education- Dr. Daniel Aleshire Article
This document provides one of the keenest and most concise statements of the challenge and future of seminary education.
Education and Preparation- Seminary Internships
In cooperation with the Missouri United Methodist Foundation, the conference sponsors seminary internships during the summer to give students greater field experience.
Residents in Ministry
We've adjusted our Residents in Ministry program to focus more on developing the practical leadership skills that may not have been addressed in seminary or previous experience. We now configure our sessions to align with our Pastoral Leadership Development groups.
Younger Clergy- Articles on Why Young Clergy Matter
The following links include articles from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership regarding Why Young Clergy Matter, Suggestions for Churches with Young Pastors, and Ways Established Church Leaders Can Work with Younger Clergy.
Order of Elders, Deacons, Local Pastors- Converge
We have done away with an older style Ministers School and replaced it with high quality events that bring together clergy of all statuses for worship, music, learning, and fun. Converge has been well attended and deeply appreciated. Here are a couple brochures from recent events.
The Appointment System- Appointment Guidelines and Criteria
These pages are reviewed and revised each year as the cabinet begins the appointment process. These values and expectations drive the process. We refine the language a little each year, and we review these processes and criteria at the end of the appointment season to evaluate how faithful we've been to these guidelines.
The Appointment System- The Selection of District Superintendents
The bishop consults with the cabinet on the appointment of District Superintendents and invites nominations in writing. At the outset, these criteria for selection are reviewed and discussed. This page also is reviewed and discussed with any prospective new cabinet member at the meeting in which the bishop invites the person to serve as superintendent.
The Appointment System- Lay Persons Serving Local Churches
The Appointment System- 2014 Video Describing Appointment System
During annual conference in 2014, the bishop walked through the entire appointment process from beginning to end, describing the values and processes at work in determining appointments. The bishop has done similar presentations for clergy and other select groups. The attempt is to be as transparent as possible about what are sometimes perceived as mysterious or hidden processes.
The Appointment System- Protocols for Superintendents During Changes of Appointment
Each year during the appointment process, the cabinet reviews in detail the significant steps and ordering in the process of offering an appointment to a pastor, engaging the Staff Parish Relations Committee, announcing that a pastor is leaving, and introducing a new pastor. We believe that these are critical moments in a pastor's life and critical times of transition for a congregation, and that careful attention by the DS during these weeks can make a fundamental difference in improving the probability of success of the new appointments. Included here are the informal notes taken by one District Superintendent during one of these discussions.
The Appointment Processes- Clergy Transition in Large and Very Large Churches
This outline by Gil Rendle describes some of the key characteristics that make clergy transition in large churches particularly important.
The Appointment System- Right Start Seminars
All pastors under full-time appointment who are moving to a new appointment attend the Right Start workshop, hosted by the cabinet. They receive practical information about salaries, insurance, and moving expenses, as well as presentations on starting well in the new appointment. They also receive demographic reports related to their new areas, and instructions on how to use them. This is done in an environment of worship and conversation. Here's the brochure and agenda of one such event.
Attached are samples of evaluation instruments used for pastors, including their Self-Evaluation and Evaluation by the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. Examples are given for full-time and part-time. These samples represent the default forms, and they align with the Five Expectations described in chapter entitled Finding Focus. However, District Superintendents are encouraged to modify the evaluations as they see fit, and this allows us to learn more about what is helpful for the pastors and for the supervisory process. Some churches, especially large, multi-staff churches, use their own instruments for clergy evaluation, and the DS has the discretion to accept those in place of the conference default form.
District Superintendent and Conference Director Evaluations
District Superintendents and Directors undergo an evaluation once every two years that includes their self evaluation and feedback from approximately 30 people in their district selected by the bishop and the assistant to the bishop. The thirty people include laity and clergy in formal leadership positions, members of conference, and several randomly selected pastors and local church leaders. A similar pattern guides the process for Directors, relying on feedback from 30 or 40 pastors and laity across the conference. After all responses are gathered and collated by the assistant to the bishop, the bishop conducts a one-hour face-to-face evaluation that culminates in recommendations for future learning or focus.
Episcopal Evaluation- 2007 Missouri Episcopacy Committee
In 2007, Missouri initiated an evaluation process for the bishop. The Conference Episcopacy Committee developed a form and solicited responses from approximately sixty laity and clergy across the conference, some selected because of their conference leadership position and others selected randomly. This was one of the first and earliest attempts by conferences to develop an evaluation process for bishops, and we borrowed some of the format from other conferences that were experimenting at the same time.
Episcopal Evaluation- 2011 South Central Jurisdiction Assessment of Bishops
In 2011, the South Central Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee developed an evaluation process. This included several components, including a survey that invited approximately fifty people to offer evaluative comments using SurveyMonkey. Various elements of the evaluation are found here.
Episcopal Evaluation – Weems Article on Evaluating Bishops
In this essay, "What Next for the Evaluation of Bishops?," Lovett Weems, Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, wrote this essay that delves into the complexity and necessity of evaluation for Episcopal leaders.
Episcopal Evaluation – Bishop's Semi-Annual Report to Conference Episcopacy Committee
In the absence of a clear agenda for the Conference Episcopacy Committee during my first year as a bishop, I began the practice of outlining and reviewing conference priorities, my time commitments, and challenges ahead. I revise and update the report for each semi-annual meeting and this becomes the focal point for conversation and feedback. I have included three samples here from 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2013 to show the progression in process as priorities became more clear and as strategies became more elaborate.
Clergy Evaluation – The Use of Metrics
Gil Rendle has written several significant essays about the use of metrics for evaluating and assessing churches, progress toward our mission, and clergy effectiveness and fruitfulness. This link takes us to a Texas Methodist Foundation website that allows you to access the following articles by Rendle.
Clergy Ineffectiveness – Intervention or Exit Policy
This is the policy we've used to guide conversations and set benchmarks for clergy identified as ineffective in the pastoral role. We are currently revising the policy, and this one will be out of date soon. It follows the Discipline, but makes more explicit the signs of ineffectiveness and more clear the steps of the process.
Clergy Ineffectiveness – Called Anew; Sent with Love
This brochure from the Indiana Conference captures some of the sense of changing directions or rethinking the call that we would like to use in our updated policies.
The Conference Council on Finance and Administration and the Director of Finance and Administrative Ministries developed a Stewardship Toolkit for congregations seeking basic information and resources related to the financial life of the congregation. Below is the link to the conference website.
Standing Rules Related to CFA and Apportionment Formula Explanation
Below are the Standing Rules that apply to conference Council of Finance and Administration (CFA) for the budgeting process and financial oversight of the conference. An Explanation of the Apportionment Formula is also presented. Finally, Disciplinary Information related to CFA is given.
Special Session of Annual Conference
The most significant directional changes for the Missouri Conference to reshape operations took place by vote of a Called Session of Annual Conference held in March, 2007. The Conference met for two hours, and received the report and recommendations from Pathways, which was the Task Force which spent eighteen months rethinking the purpose and operations of the Missouri Conference. The entire proposal was contained on one page. Prior to the session, the Bishop and other members of Pathways had met with the Conference Council and the Council of Finance and Administration to collaborate and receive their support. They also met in gatherings of clergy and laity across the conference to discuss and explain the proposed changes. The one-page document below was adopted by an overwhelming vote.
Changing the Nominations Process
The Missouri Conference also began to rethink how nominations worked, with the goal of developing leadership that was committed, gifted, and engaged. The following documents are used to describe the process.
2011 Annual Conference- Practicing Extravagant Generosity
Below is the 144-page workbook that each annual conference member received in electronic or hard copy for the 2011 Sessions of the Missouri Annual Conference on the theme of Practicing Extravagant Generosity. Every member also received a devotional booklet by the same name. This workbook includes agenda, reports, nominations, and worship resources for the entire conference.
Each conference includes an array of workshops related to the conference theme, taught by pastors and laity from our conference with particular expertise or experience or by outside guests. This handout describes our workshops for 2011.
2012 Annual Conference- Louder Than Before
Below is the 136-page Workbook that each conference member received for the 2012 Annual Conference on a youth theme with a special focus on reaching next generations, entitled Louder Than Before. Youth helped plan many events, including the Friday night street party, and special speakers included Kenda Cristi Dean and Chuck Bohmar. The second document is the simple agenda for the sessions.
2013 Annual Conference- Praying Hands and Dirty Fingernails
The theme for 2013 derived from a chapter from Remember the Future, entitled Praying Hands and Dirty Fingernails, and focused on spiritual formation and the life of prayer and how his empowers us for serving others through mission, service, and justice ministries. This conference session also launched the Missouri Conference focus on Imagine No Malaria. A simple agenda is also shown below.