By Amy Thompson
While at Annual Conference, the Bishop introduced to us the three conference priorities that have been affirmed by the Mission Council and Cabinet. During my laity address, I provided a brief introduction about the three priorities before the directors providing leadership shared the specific goals and strategies. The following is an excerpt from my address:
Priority One – New Missional Leaders
Essential to the work of the conference is increasing our new missional leaders. We become missional leaders when we grow in Christ, when we encourage and disciple others. Tending to our own discipleship strengthens our leadership and relationship with God. Mentoring and encouraging others nurtures their faith development as well as extends the reach of God’s love in the world. Let’s consider what can occur with a small group leader as the leader mentors another in the group to move into leading their own small group. The newly raised up leader leaves the existing group to start and lead their own small group. The original small group leader mentors another that leaves the group to lead another small group, and let’s not forget the first mentee that left to start own group has now raised another leader and so forth. Our focus must be on raising missional leaders that are raising missional leaders in order to grow God’s Kingdom.
Priority Two – New Places for New People
Existing leaders along with our new missional leaders will support the transforming work of increasing new places for new people. Roger Ross, Director of the Center for Congregational Excellence, sends a monthly email to the Congregational Excellence Prayer Team. His first prayer request in these emails have been these words over the last few months, “Lord, multiply your Kingdom through us,” or “Lord, how can we multiply your Kingdom.” Is your church in conversation about a new worship service? Are you starting new small groups in the community? How can we offer the experience of knowing Christ in a setting that is comfortable for unchurched and disinterested? We are called to multiply the Kingdom!
Priority Three – Pathway Out of Poverty
Our conference priorities would not be complete without a compelling action, which is supporting a pathway out of poverty through literacy. Can you imagine the impact it would make to have partnerships with more schools across the conference that support students in reading skills? I recently reached out to my local school district to find out how I could become a reading partner for a student at the neighborhood elementary school. In my conversation with the school counselor, she shared with me the application process and background screening for being a school volunteer. The district calls the program Difference Makers. I must say that I paused as I read the title, Difference Makers. We want to be difference makers. We are called to be difference makers in this world by demonstrating God's love. How amazing would it be for the United Methodist Church of Missouri to be difference makers in the lives of students in our local schools.
Since Annual Conference, an event has been planned to give you the opportunity to learn more about the three conference priorities. The event scheduled for Saturday, September 8 is called Conference Action Plan Kick-Off and will be hosted in five locations. You can register at www.moumethodist.org/actionplankickoff until September 1. The cost is $10 to cover lunch.
Consider how you or how your church can support these priorities. If your church needs an area of focus, my prayer is that you will consider one of these priorities. I acknowledge that some churches already have their own projects. I ask you to consider how you can align your focus with these priorities, or select just one priority. Our work together can impact the Kingdom and make a difference across the communities in Missouri.