This is part of a series of posts in which I am responding to questions of purpose and improvement for the annual conference in the United States.
In paragraph 601 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline there is a dual purpose for the annual conference – to equip local churches for ministry and to provide a connection for ministry beyond the local church.
I think that there are several key areas in which the annual conference could improve in equipping local churches for ministry:
- Recruitment and training of leaders – I think that annual conferences need to become much more aggressive in efforts to recruit and train leaders for local congregations. I believe that this is the most effective way to equip local churches. This could include tools for local congregations designed to create a culture of the call in which people of all ages may be more ready to respond to God’s call in their life. This could include local resources for theological study, guidance for pastors about how to have conversations with people considering ministry, on site training for pastors, staff and key leaders in local congregations
- Local worship resources – Worship resources developed for use within local congregations. There would be an advantage in creating resources that are most likely to speak to a particular context, i.e. rural, company town, growing suburb, etc. The annual conference may be able to facilitate sharing of resources directly between congregations. For example, sharing ideas, graphics, small group and other resources that may have been developed for a particular congregation.
- Aggressively leveraging technology – I think that the annual conference could do better equip churches for ministry by teaching and equipping congregations to utilize existing free standards in technology that may be effective for ministry, such as Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Groups – Google or Yahoo, Google Apps, etc.
What would you add?