I am humbled by the response of the lay leaders and pastors in the District to group charge conferencing!  A number of you approached me and essentially said: “Why didn’t you do this earlier?  This works so much better!  Let’s do it again!”  My take? There is a hunger amongst you to connect with leaders from other churches:

  • To learn from each other
  • To be inspired by each other
  • To puzzle with each other about how to “be church” in this new context we find so challenging.

You may be wondering what we did with all of those “sticky notes” we asked charge conference participants to fill out.  We have collected them and created the “word cloud” below.  Here’s what got the most number of mentions, and what I heard as I listened to you share:

  • Church (133):  The love and passion people feel for their local church was palpable.
  • Community (64):  People were energized to see that they were“not alone” in their struggles and that others share their passion for connecting their church to the local community in new ways.
  • People (61):  Increasingly, folks are realizing that“serving” is about relationships, not about providing “things” to people in a transactional sort of way.  Hearts and minds are transformed when we care enough to connect personally with people in a real way.
  • Serve (52):  Churches in the District love serving!  We live in communities where people want to“make a difference” in other people’s lives—especially those without.
  • Others (43):  I see a growing heart in the District for people “outside” the church—the “others” who are not yet connected to a community of faith; who do not yet know Jesus. Many spoke about their needs to turn outward—towards the “others” who are not yet part of the community of faith.
  • Service (38):  Service is at the heart of Christian discipleship.
  • Need (28):  People were deeply aware of “needs” in the community, and their hearts are stirred by inspiring ways to meet those needs in a Christian caring way.

Words that followed:  inspired, mission, ideas, can, sharing, together, good, ministry, outside, new and homeless.

I am inspired by the sense of energy and renewed commitment I experienced this charge conference season amongst all of you—the laity and pastors in the District.  I honestly did not know how the group charge conferences would be received. But we ran the experiment—and are heartened by the response.  I encourage each of you to ask, “Where in my church are we doing things “the way we’ve always done them”?”  “Where might we experiment boldly?”  I have this strong sense that the Holy Spirit is just waiting to nudge us into stepping out of our comfort zones and patterns, so that we might “do a new thing in Christ.”  I pray that we all might discern where God is calling us into experimenting boldly.