One of the great joys of my life is being a part of the Conference Sessions Committee. This group prayerfully discerns the theme for Annual Conference and works on every detail, so Conference delegates will experience the most meaningful and transforming Annual Conference one can imagine. The Committee pays attention to the details of technology for the meeting along with worship, hospitality teams, and every other dimension of the conference. It is truly one of the most creative and spiritually-centered groups you could find where there is focus, fun and faith at work!
Why is all of this so important?
While recently attending a worship service in an urban setting, I was drawn to a young couple whom I had not seen for some time. They were excited about the message and moved by the music they had just experienced. They were touched by the invitation of the service and discussed how they wanted to be more active in the church. But they felt they didn’t know how to go about finding their place to offer themselves in service. They felt they probably were not needed or didn’t have the skills of some others in leadership who they have seen in action. I encouraged them to explore the many ways they could make a difference right now at this church. Just go for it!
I, then, begin to wonder how many people come to church inspired and motivated to servant leadership but never offer themselves following such a meaningful worship experience. This was an active, yet struggling, church that certainly had all kinds of announcements of upcoming events where people could involve themselves; however, the quick way the announcements were given felt more like planned events only for the planners.
I think one of the most important goals we have as a church is to identify leaders of all ages who strive to constantly learn, grow and connect with people—and then challenge them to live out their faith as disciples within and beyond the walls of the church.
Ephesians 4:11-13 reminds us: “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
Are we intentional as a church to help people discover their gifts? Are we turning away the very people we need in order to be the face of Christ in a hurting world? Is it possible that we have become too comfortable with the same people always serving that we miss the opportunity to nominate those new to the faith whose very gifts can contribute to the spiritual growth and health of the church?
Kay Kotan, author and church consultant, affirms that the need to develop new leaders is vital to the future of individual congregations and the church as a whole. We need to be on the lookout for people who are practicing the spiritual disciplines and are positive role models who participate regularly in service and are also using their gifts in ministry and service.
At this year’s Annual Conference, I am excited that our theme is what it means to be Freed-2-Lead, offering ways to develop and strengthen the leadership in YOUR local church. Freed2-Lead will transform your leadership and free you to be the leader God has created you to be.
There is an optional Pre-Conference Institute on Thursday, June 7, on Leading through Fierce Conversations that will help encourage leaders to overcome barriers to meaningful conversations we need to have most in our ministry settings. I am reminded of these timely words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 50 years after his death, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Here are just a few of the significant workshops during Annual Conference that you can be a part of: