Third Annual Clergy Retreat about Vital Congregations

The clergy of the Lynchburg District met together for 24 hours in Blackstone this week to explore how we could better become Vital Congregations. This will be the theme of our 2011 Charge Conferences and a new way to measure our congregations effectiveness for the next several years. Clergy and Lay Leaders at all levels begin the process of setting goals in five key areas: Worship, Disciples, Small Groups, Mission Participants and Mission Giving.

The five key areas are not necessarily new but the way we hold ourselves accountable will take us into the Internet age. A new website – is designed to not only show the statistics in these areas of every church across our denomination but will also share stories and ideas to help each church no matter what size become more vital.

Mark Ogren, The Director of Congregational Excellence for the Virginia Conference was our retreat leader. As a part of introducing Vital Congregations, Rev. Ogren share four trends that could shape our conference over the next 25 years.

  1. The return to essentials will be both a necessity and an opportunity. With the coming rise in the death rate of our members we will have fewer members to provide more money. It will be critical to return to the essentials of our faith: “The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciple of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
  2. The laity and the clergy of the Virginia Conference will need to become more bi-lingual in two distinct ways. First will be the ability to speak the language of the churched and the unchurched. The second will be the need to relate to the rapidly growing Hispanic population.
  3. There will be an increase in the variety of forms that our new faith communities will take. These forms will include house churches, mother-daughter churches, ethnic and niche ministries, second site churches, cyber-church fellowships and merged/renewal churches.
  4. The explosive impact of technology will continue to impact the way we do church. George Barna writes: “Predicting what the Internet will be like in the future is a fruitless task…”

As always the retreat began and ended with worship and prayer. Together we committed to do our best relying upon God’s grace to help all of our churches become more Vital Congregations for Jesus Christ.

“Looking for Qualities not Qualifications” From Church Volunteer Central by Sue Brage

I was in a great workshop called, “Why people don’t volunteer-and how to change that.” As we were brainstorming ways to help volunteer leaders, one of our team made a great point. She said, “Many people make the mistake of looking for qualifications, not qualities. But it’s the qualities that make the difference.”

As we gear up for the upcoming year, I thought it would be helpful to consider what qualities we are looking for in our volunteers; what expectations we have for our leaders-and teachers. I think there are five key goals that should be shared and cultivated in each person on our team. See if you agree…

• To come prepared and ready-body, mind, and spirit-to serve

• To be flexible and calm if things get off track

• To bring fresh, creative ideas to their ministry area

• To build real relationships with the children, youth, and adults they serve

• To have as their main goal at all times, to help others grow closer to Jesus