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Did you know? – Leaning into Change

Posted: June 22 2017 at 12:00 AM
Author: By Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Assistant to the Bishop/Dir. of Connectional Ministries


The 2016-2017 Annual Conference year was a time of innovation. This June, the annual conference approved implementation of a new model for coordination at the conference and district levels continuing the trajectory of innovation.

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We have been called into a time of “Adaptive Change”. Adaptive change is defined as a change that requires new learning when the challenge, problem or situation has no clear, proven, technical solution.

This past year’s staff transitions pushed us to rethink what it means to be in “connectional ministries”. We are no longer a staff-driven organization creating and staffing programs when someone expresses an interest. We have addressed the challenge of a smaller staff through “adaptive change” working to become an organization providing a platform to support passionate leaders.

Here are some examples of ways we have been working from this perspective, creating platforms for passion:

The Sustainability Taskforce wanted to host an event in each region this year, they sought the support of the annual conference with registration and best practices but did the design and implementation of two successful, self-funding events themselves.

The Rev. Martin Lee, Director of Congregational Development and Redevelopment, began a training program titled: “Team Works”. Rather than a predetermined “do this, not that” curriculum this four-session training, spread out over a year, invites teams from churches to learn together, design their own approach to the topic, implement their design, then gather again for reflection, sharing and more learning.

We can be a platform for the passions of our conference as we frame our work around the conference priorities.

Conference priorities were identified in 2016 through a yearlong assessment. The priorities are: (1) Equipping both leaders and churches to reach new members using new strategies, help members grow as disciples and be more effective in community outreach, (2) resource struggling churches, (3) rethink how to be vital churches and (4) cultivate trust within the conference.

This conference year, through the formation of District and Conference Shepherding Teams we will have the opportunity to drill deeper into the needs of our churches at every level, resourcing the local church as we turn our priorities into coordinated, defined action.

The Annual Conference Shepherding Team will bring together both administrative and programmatic entities to one table where they can work in cooperation with one another. Following carefully crafted guidelines for the team’s makeup, members will be identified and recruited through the summer months. The organizing meeting of this new entity will take place in November. The District Shepherding Teams will also be formed this fall. With representation from each district at the central table, the design gives way for a flow of communication from the local church to the conference and from the conference to the local church.

Even though “we’ve never done it this way before”, through the hard work of visionary leaders on the Organizational Task Force we have an opportunity to lean into change and work on equipping churches, clergy and laity as we strengthen our faith and find ways to give witness to Christ in a rapidly changing world.

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