In the last two weeks I have reported on some of the things that came out in the “Leading Edge” meeting of the Senior Pastors of the 100 largest churches by worship attendance in the UMC in the U.S. with 32 active bishops. One of the constant questions for both bishops and pastors revolved around how we might help each other in “making disciples for the transformation of the world” and renewing the United Methodist Church. As a part of that meeting Dr. Adam Hamilton and the others from the organization team of Senior Pastors challenged the pastors as a group. The pastors were presented “ten ideas each large church pastor was encouraged to consider.” They were challenged to engage in at least two or three of the ten. [The Senior Pastors ten ideas are in bold; my comments are in italics.]
TEN IDEAS EACH LARGE CHURCH PASTOR ENCOURAGED TO CONSIDER:
(1) Inviting gifted young people to respond to a call – raise $$$ to send a student to seminary. Leadership development is not only one of our four critical focus areas; it is vital for the future of both Methodism and the Christian movement in America.
(2) Launching new faith communities. New church development is more than just starting new worship services. Any denomination or Christian group will not become or recover being a force for Christ and world transformation without great engagement in new church development. This is not an optional area. Furthermore, new churches that are parented by strong existing churches have a much, much higher possibility of growing into spiritual health and vitality.
(3) Taking on or taking over existing, declining or dying UMC congregations. This too is a vital way we can extend the DNA of healthy disciple-making churches across the connection.
(4) Creating networks of churches supporting one another. Our largest church can offer greatly needed mentoring and support that will point the way to spiritual renewal.
(5) Mentoring young clergy – meeting with young clergy on a regular basis – implementing “reverse mentoring.” Mentoring and coaching especially for and with young clergy is a two way street. Bishops need young clergy mentors as well!
(6) Mentoring large church clergy – what do they need to learn? Peer learning is critical.
(7) Provide sermon ideas and illustrations free of charge to anyone who wants or needs them. Many larger churches are already offering material for free or for greatly reduced cost. Proper credit should be given for the use of such material but it is a mystery to me, with the use of the internet, why more clergy don’t adapt sermon ideas and illustrations.
(8) Invite other churches to partner on mission projects. Amen. Larger churches have a “mission muscle” which can be of great assistance to smaller congregations mutually benefiting both and those who are served!
(9) Give away Christmas Eve offering for missions. Extravagant Generosity is a core practice of fruitful (and faithful!) living for both churches and individuals.
(10) Become a positive prophetic voice – we need prophets of hope! Jeremiah 29:11!