As the year has turned, I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! My prayers for you and your church are that you know you are beloved of Christ, and share that abundantly in your neighborhoods and communities so that Christ’s kingdom comes here on earth.

I taught about Leadership and Change at this year’s Bi-District Training Day (which has been unofficially renamed “Church Nerd Training Day”!). I’m excited that 50 people in our two districts care about leadership, and spent time working through what it means to lead in changing times – it is NOT easy!

As a Christian, we are ALL called to some kind of leadership. Leading ourselves is our first work, and frankly the only one we have real control over. As a Christian, we are called to go deeper and wider into Spirit and Scripture, seeking God’s wisdom and grace, and sharing what we learn and what we’ve received with others. When the scriptures tell us to “go and make disciples”, this is leadership!

And if you think about it, each and every time a leader makes a decision or even fails to make a decision, it results in a change. It may be incrementally tiny, or it may be major – carpet in the sanctuary, or worship times; decision to not engage in the issues of LGBTQIA, or a decision to have difficult conversations. Leadership is really all about change management.

So – how will you, a Christian leader, be a force for positive change this year? You probably already heard my plan – to stay calm, stay connected and stay the course. I’ll be working on my own ability to stay less anxious despite a highly anxious time. I’ll be looking for healthy Christian leaders to ally and work with, and I’ll be comforting those who have been hurt or left behind in our struggles as church and denomination. And I’ll keep in mind the work that is always before us, whether or not the UMC exists in one form or another – making disciples, and transforming the world. What will you be doing and becoming this year?

Happy New Year Christian leaders (dare I say, “church nerds” in the most playful and loving of ways?!)!! And may God’s dreams come true in your life and church, and in our world!