Discipleship Pathways Retreat

Forty-three people from a dozen Iowa churches gathered for the Healthy Church Initiative Next: Discipleship Pathways Retreat at the end of January. Led by the Field Outreach Ministers of the Iowa Conference, the event focused on helping pastors and laity understand more clearly what a discipleship pathway is and how to develop and implement one in their local churches.

HCI.ww.jan2018The Iowa Conference has a Wildly Important Goal for every church to develop a process for intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ by the year 2020. We want disciples to know and become more like Jesus.

Retreat participants reviewed how we can help followers of Jesus deepen their relationships with God, no matter their ages or stages of life. A four-step framework was offered for churches to adapt in their context to help people intentionally develop faith.

“The presentations were excellent,” one participant said, “but I would say the encouragement of having action steps” to follow up on what we’ve learned was the most important aspect of the weekend.

The event was held at the Wesley Woods Camp and Retreat Center outside of Indianola. Additional retreats and workshops are being planned throughout the state in the coming months.

The Healthy Church Initiative is supported in 2018 with a Parish Development grant of $70,000. These funds are made possible through the apportionment gifts of United Methodist churches across the state.

L3 Process

The newly formed church council for 2018 of Wesley United Methodist Church in Vinton gathered last week for a leaders’ orientation and visioning session. Phil Carver, the field outreach minister in the southeast part of the state, was there to talk with them about their ministry plans.

He shared the L3 process that is being used more and more across the state by conference, district, and local church leaders.loving.learning.leading Loving, learning, and leading are three practices to nurture and develop spiritual leaders in our churches. This process comes to us from Spiritual Leadership, Inc., an organization that has been coaching Iowa Conference leaders throughout our Healthy Conference Initiative.

Loving God and Neighbor involves accountability, sharing, prayer, and worship at the opening of every gathering.

Learning in Community may include lectures, videos, discussions, and exercises to help leaders discover personal gifts and abilities, investigate the current reality of their context for ministry, and reveal God’s direction for the future.

Leading Together offers teams an intentional way to design and implement ministry action plans for living into God’s vision for their church and community.

The Iowa Conference is investing more than $100,000 this year in training, coaching, and resources related to the Healthy Conference Initiative and the L3 process.

Discipleship Practices

The Northeast District sponsored a training event last month at First United Methodist Church in Jesup. Jackie Bradford, the superintendent, announced that Dr. Lilian Gallo Seagren and Dr. Gideon Gallo, a sister and brother team, would be coming to the district on Saturday, October 14 to “help us explore the Gospels to discover what we can learn about making disciples.”

Discipleship+pathwaysThe Iowa Conference has embraced a Wildly Important Goal (WIG) to see that “All United Methodist churches in Iowa will have a process of intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by the year 2020.”

Fifteen leaders attended the event in Jesup. They focused on what a disciple is, in order to help their churches design a process for developing their members more and more into the likeness of Jesus. A disciple, their presenters noted, is a learner who has a confession and conviction about who Jesus Christ is and a commitment to the mission of the church in a community of faith shaped by the example of Jesus.

Leadership development is a major focus of the Northeast District budget in 2017. Apportionment gifts of $13,400 are dedicated to the district from the apportionment gifts of the United Methodist churches of Iowa.