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Laity Convocation focuses on discipleship making

Posted: February 20 2018 at 12:42 PM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt


Discipleship Ministries General Secretary Rev. Junius Dotson shares the initiative #SeeAllThePeople with laity and clergy at the 2018 Laity Convocation.

One year after laity and clergy pondered the “why”, participants at the 2018 Northern Illinois Conference Laity Convocation focused on the “how” local churches carry out the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

About 270 people gathered at Sycamore United Methodist Church on Feb. 17 to learn strategies for transforming ministry plans into action. General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries Rev. Dr. Junius Dotson delivered the keynote challenging local churches to move from the ‘why’, (the purpose), to the ‘how’, (seeing all the people.) Dotson calls it “missional engagement.”

“For a long time we thought revitalizing churches meant looking for a quick fix (i.e. a new program), but we cannot quick fix our way back to vitality,” said Dotson. “It’s going to take ordinary people who are passionate about Jesus, who are willing to engage with people outside the church, who are willing to develop and cultivate relationships, and be willing to share their faith with others.”

Dotson introduced Discipleship Ministries grassroots initiative, #SeeAllThePeople, which provides a variety of resources to help shift the conversation from fixing churches to true discipleship.

“Engagement is more than outreach,” said Dotson. “It’s about building relationships because you cannot disciple people who you are not in relationship with and I’m talking about building authentic, organic and consistent relationships.”

Dotson says he’s inspired by the many stories of ways churches across the denomination are engaging in the community and seeing all the people. He used South Shore UMC in Chicago as an example. The congregation last August went outside its church to pray for people passing by in buses and cars and workers in the schoolyard across the street. They even served communion to people at a bus stop alongside police officers who stopped their car to observe what was going on.


Rev. Adonna Reid and members of the congregation at South Shore UMC in Chicago stepped outside the church to pray for people passing by and across the street last August.

The church’s pastor, Rev Adonna Davis Reid, wrote in an email to Rev. Dotson, “Since encouraging the congregation to persevere in prayer and fasting, we have begun to move in ways not previously experienced, or at least not in anyone's memory. And we're trying new ways of engaging with the community by encouraging people to see all the people in line with your new initiative.”

Reid says the following week she baptized 12 people, some who experienced the outdoor communion, in Lake Michigan – another first for the church!

“#SeeAllThePeople is one of many ways Discipleship Ministries is working to bring clarity, focus and renewed energy to our mission as an agency to challenge and support local church and annual conference leaders for their task of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Dotson said.  

To find short film conversation starters, a free downloadable version of the Developing an Intentional Discipleship System booklet, social media opportunities, worship resources, and to sign up for updates by email visit

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