Why It Worked
By Fred Koenig
Bishop Schnase came to Missouri as a young pastor, younger than anyone else on the cabinet. He had never held a Conference staff position or served as a District Superintendent. He’d only been in Missouri two days before in his life.
“You gave me a chance. We listened to and learned from each other, and one step at a time we made our way forward,” he said. “I hope whoever my successor is experiences the same thing as me.”
Bishop Schnase said things worked well because the Pathways restructuring task force developed five expectations and stuck by them. Churches started focusing on the Five Practices.
The Conference developed the mission statement of “Leading Congregations to Lead People to Actively Follow Jesus Christ,” and stuck with it.
Bishop Schnase also said we’ve refused to deny hard truths.
“What does it mean when the population of Missouri is increasing, and we lose 80,000 members over the last 40 years?” he said. “We may not have the resources to do what this church did in 1957, but we have exactly the resources we need to do the ministry God is calling us to
During Bishop Schnase’s time Annual Conference has moved away from being a business meeting and refocused on being a time of learning and growing.
“Many have told me they experienced something at Annual Conference that fundamentally changed their life,” Bishop Schnase said. “Many conferences feel like a political convention – with people lining up at a microphone with self-serving motives. I hope when you drive home from Annual Conference, you are thinking, ‘I’m so glad to be part of the Missouri Conference’.”
The Missouri Conference has focused on the local church, while letting them work in their own context, in their own way, Bishop Schnase said.
“We were not afraid to risk, and we were not discouraged by failure,” Bishop Schnase said.
Bishop Schnase said people have been gracious through the appointment process, even as he made several clergy appointments that were non-conventional or traditional, basing appointments on fruitfulness and excellence.
One result of that has been a larger number of women appointed to large churches than other conferences. Although he would have liked for his time here to have been longer, Bishop Schnase said he is confident about what lies ahead for Missouri.
“It’s been a privilege to serve as your bishop,” Bishop Schnase said. “You’re going to do well in the future. Whoever is assigned here will have won the lottery They’ll get the best conference in the South Central Jurisdiction. You have depth of leadership, and you have a bright future.”