Workshops take members back to Welseyan disciple-making roots

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Workshops take members back to Welseyan disciple-making roots

May 29, 2008  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0859}

An e-Review Feature
By e-Review Staff

The Rev. Lyndol Loyd co-leads The Methodist Way class on intentional discipling at the 2008 Florida Annual Conference Event. He stressed that churches can no longer assume the people they are trying to reach have any level of biblical knowledge. Photo by Greg Moore. Photo #08-0860.

LAKELAND — Gathering under the theme “Living the United Methodist Way,” more than 700 members and guests kicked off the 2008 Florida Annual Conference Event’s activities by attending workshops on five practices considered essential for churches in making disciples of Jesus Christ.

“The Methodist Way” workshops were held at the Lakeland Center May 28, a day before the conference session officially began. Offered at no charge, the classes were for all Florida United Methodists, not just members of this year’s conference session.

The classes were designed to help both laity and clergy learn more about The Methodist Way, five practices that embody the Wesleyan model of disciple-making. The practices include passionate worship, radical hospitality, intentional discipling, salty service and extravagant generosity.

In addition to English-language classed on the five practices, a class providing an overview of the five practices and next steps was taught in English, Spanish and Creole.

Participants attending The Methodist Way class on extravagant generosity listen as the Rev. Dr. Jeff Stiggins asks how much in the way of material resources people really need when their neighbors are suffering. Photo by Greg Moore. Photo #08-0861.

Teams of laity and clergy whose congregations excel at a particular practice led the 90-minute workshops. The classes were designed to “ground the practice in Scripture and help participants imagine practical ways of effectively living into the practice for their congregation and community,” according to the Rev. Dr. Jeff Stiggins, director of the Florida Conference Office of Congregational Transformation, which sponsored the classes.

Stiggins said all of the classes were well attended, with many running out of materials. “The thing that amazes me is how hungry people are for what it means to be in ministry at the local church level,” he said.

Methodist Way workshops were also held a day before last year’s annual conference event began. About 600 people attended those sessions. The classes in Spanish and Creole were new to this year’s series.

Helping people experience God, live a disciple’s life

The Rev. Jim Harnish, senior pastor at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, and Warren Pattison, Hyde Park’s director of media and worship arts, led the passionate worship workshop. They spoke about the need for churches to help people discover their spiritual gifts and use them creatively in worship.

Idella Gaston, lay leader of the North Central District and a member of Zion United Methodist Church in Ocala, thinks the conference should have more workshops like it. “Hopefully, this will help us think outside the box a little bit more and help us reach more people,” she said. “It gives us ownership and a sense of connectivity in worship.”

The Rev. Doug Kokx, pastor at First Clermont United Methodist Church, emphatically told those attending his class on radical hospitality, “Our heritage as Methodists is outreach!”

The Rev. Jim Harnish (foreground) and Warren Pattison teach The Methodist Way class on passionate worship, one of the five practices of disciple-making that says worship should help people encounter and get to know God and each other. It also says worship should prepare members to go back into the world, share what they’ve learned and invite people to experience the love of God in a faith community. Photo by Caryl Kelley. Photo #08-0862.

Kokx explained how society has become disconnected from the church, but that radical hospitality will reach even the most disconnected people who have been disillusioned by religion.

Robin Masden, a member of Davenport United Methodist Church, said radical hospitality is an essential part of the “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.” Igniting Ministry motto. “We need to take some risks, step out with Jesus and reach the people around us,” she said.

The Rev. Lyndol Loyd, pastor at LifeSong United Methodist Church in Orlando, and Joni Loyd, director of Life Groups at the church, opened their workshop on intentional discipling with a video from the “Tonight Show.” In it host Jay Leno takes to the streets to test people’s knowledge of the Bible. People were able to remember the names of the Three Stooges, but couldn’t remember Bible characters. When one person was asked which Bible character was swallowed by a whale, he replied, “Pinochio!”

Lyndol Loyd believes the skit emphasizes how society has stopped being influenced by the church and desperately needs discipling.

Matt Horan, a member of Hyde Park United Methodist Church, said the intentional discipling workshop was very important to him because he wants to see more people become disciples and “not just church service attendees.”
Serving others, sharing God’s gifts

Two other classes asked members to look beyond themselves, focusing on giving and service.

The Rev. Alex Shanks, associate pastor at Christ Church United Methodist in Fort Lauderdale, and Fred Scarborough, the church’s Serve Team leader, spoke about the need for churches to “pick up our crosses in service to our community and our world.”

In The Methodist Way class on radical hospitality, participants were asked to take time to share something about themselves, as they would when they greet newcomers to their churches. Photo by Caryl Kelley. Photo #08-0863.

“I enjoyed having my mind opened to different opportunities for serving the Lord,” said Marguerite Torres, a member of Community of Faith United Methodist Church in Davenport. First United Methodist Church of Lakeland member Sue Hamm said she attended the workshop after three different people recommended it.

Stiggins led the class on extravagant generosity and asked attendees, “How much more do we need?” He encouraged them to consider whether it is appropriate for individuals and churches to use all their material resources on themselves while ignoring neighbors in need. “We need to choose a lifestyle with margins,” he said.

DVDs of the classes on the five practices will be available in late July or early August. Individuals interested in receiving a DVD may check the Office of Congregational Transformation Web site then for details or call the Congregational Transformation office at 800-282-8011, extension 340.

Conference from the comfort of home

Additional articles about news and events taking place at the 2008 Florida Annual Conference Event May 29-31 will be posted to e-Review during and after the conference. The conference session is also being webcast so those not able to attend may view the sessions online from their home computer.

Individuals interested in accessing the webcast may go to the Florida Conference Web site at and click on the webcast link.

More information about the conference session, including a schedule of activities and reports being presented, is available

Steven Skelley contributed to this report.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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