Greetings from the District Superintendent
|Dr. Bob Bushong|
Some of you remember Bishop Robert Schnase’s book called Five Practices for Faithful Congregations that was published in 2007 and quickly became a helpful resource for local congregations and a tool that has undergirded our collective perception of what defines a vital church.
In a new, revised version of this book Bishop Schnase addresses head-on the “five practices” from the perspective of a “post-attractional era” that requires a significant shift in how we think about ministry. He acknowledges that attractional models of church, those designed to “get people to come to us” are not enough, and we need to shift into a missional approach that “develops ministry that primarily benefits people who are not members of the church, often in places away from church facilities.”
Bishop Schnase’s revised approach to the “five practices for faithful congregations” focuses on developing an intentional outward focus that means “carrying Christ’s love to where people already live and work and play, rather than hoping for people to come to us.”
He defines our shift in thinking about ministry in these ways:
- “Come to us” ideas must be balanced with “go to them” initiatives.
- Strategies for doing things “better” must be strengthened with ideas of doing things “differently.”
- Teaching people to “do things our way” must be intermixed with “learning new things” from others.
- Doing ministry “for” becomes doing ministry “with.”
- Welcoming guests expands to becoming a newcomer among others.
- Increasing activities “in the church” shifts toward offering ministries “beyond our facilities.”
- Making our church more interesting to others expands to becoming more interested in the spiritual needs and real-life issues of others.
- Receiving people in the spirit of Christ expands to being sent to people around us in the spirit of Christ.
I am often asked why so many churches are declining and even closing. My typical answer is, “Because so many churches are mostly inward focused and myopic in their world views.” In many contexts “church” has become more a place that exists to keep its members happy by meeting their perceived needs than it does to reach outside of itself with the love of God through Jesus to listen to the needs of those “out there” and to the whisper of the Spirit in how to speak God’s love into those needs.
I often tell pastors in the district that their roles are both (1) more important and (2) more difficult than mine: more important because the local church is where the action is when it comes to living out our faith in community; more challenging because we’re living in a time in which we need to figure out how to “be the church” in a world that no longer sees church involvement, let alone church membership, as important or appealing.
I recommend that clergy and lay leaders take a serious look at Bishop Schnase’s most recent book and begin to ask yourselves how to help your church community become intentional about moving outside of itself in new and creative, uncomfortable and risky ways that focus on reaching a world that by and large is no longer inclined to come to us.
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
In the District
AWAKEN! A Night of Worship & Prayer
November 8 6:30pm - Faith UMC, Orlando
Awaken is an opportunity for the men of the United Methodist Church to gather with other men in the same district to intentionally pray for the church, its leaders, and each other. It’s designed to build unity among men, connect men in regular prayer for their pastor, and to fulfill the mission of the United Methodist Church – “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Click HERE for details.
ECD is excited to announce that Ed Coleman is the new UMM President for the district. If you have questions about the UMM or the men's ministry in your church, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 Self-Nomination Process is Open
The planning and preparation for the 2019 session of the Florida Annual Conference is well under way. During the 2019 session, we will also be electing Lay and Clergy members to represent our Annual Conference as delegates to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Being elected to serve as a delegate is quite an honor that carries a lot of responsibility.
Who can be elected as a delegate to represent the Florida Annual Conference?
The Florida Annual Conference uses an on-line self-nomination process. Anyone who: (1) senses the leading of God to serve as a delegate, (2) who meets all of the Disciplinary eligibility requirements, (3) who successfully completes the self-nomination process before the February 15, 2019, deadline or (4) who successfully completes the self-nomination process during the Lay or Clergy Sessions on the first day of Annual Conference, can have their name placed on the ballot for election at the 2019 Annual Conference Session in Lakeland, Florida.
How do I know if I’m being called to serve as a delegate? Let me suggest the following:
• Begin with a time of prayer and reflection. Explore your thoughts and feelings with God. Ask God for the wisdom and understanding to know how best to serve.
• Take time to study the issues affecting The United Methodist Church, our Annual Conference, our congregations, and our world. What are the social, spiritual, theological and moral concerns which need to be addressed by our denomination?
• Ask someone whom you trust to help you to discern whether your gifts and skills, intuition and insight, learning and leadership have prepared you to serve as a delegate at this time.
• Reflect deeply on one of the required essay questions. As a delegate, what particular things could/would you do to help The United Methodist Church to fulfill its purpose and mission around the world?
• After having done all of the above, and sensing God’s call to serve, place your name on the ballot by completing the self-nomination process found on the Conference website. Click here to access it. The on-line nomination process will remain open until midnight on February 15, 2019. If you have questions about the eligibility requirements or the self-nomination process, call, write, or email me using the information below. I will assist you in every way possible.
Beth Gardner, Annual Conference Secretary
Annual Called to Serve
February 9, 2019 - First UMC, Oviedo
Make plans now to attend the Annual ECD Called to Serve event. This day is for everyone to come together to worship, learn and grow together. We are excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Candace Lewis, Gulf Central District Superintendent will be our Keynote Speaker!
Details and registration will be available in December.
Around the Conference and Beyond
Early Response Team (ERT) Training
November 9 8:30am - 5:00pm New Covenant UMC, The Villages
Early Response Teams (ERT) are self-contained teams who enter a disaster zone at the invitation of local emergency management officials. ERTs offer a Christian presence and are trained to provide various types of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to disaster survivors. ERTs are registered with the Disaster Recovery Ministry of the Florida Conference and Disaster Recovery coordinates team placement to get help where it is needed most after a disaster.
ERT training focuses on types, phases and levels of a disaster and explains what is meant by early response. Participants learn the importance of spiritual and emotional care, tarping, flood clean-up, chainsaw safety, team requirements and much more.
Participants are trained by UMCOR-certified trainers and receive a badge identifying them with UMCOR and the Florida Conference.
Participants must be 18 or older and pass a background check
Space is limited to 25 people and registration is required. Click HERE to register.
Warren W. Willis Camp Retreats
Check out Warren W. Willis for many opportunities to reflect & fellowship!
Plan Your Own Church Retreat: Who doesn't love WWW? Why not plan your own retreat?
CCYM - Dare to Explore
February 15 - 17, 2019 - Warren W. Willis
Dare to Explore is a student leadership retreat for students by students. This is a great event to bring your student leaders (or those whom you'd like to become students leaders) to, in whatever form that takes in your local church. For some that is their whole youth group, for others it is a core group of student leaders. The registration is $90 per person. Click HERE for the Dare page. Registration will open in October. We can't wait to see you and your team. No matter where you are on your spiritual walk, be prepared to explore!
Staff Parish Relations - Dr. Bob Bushong, East Central District Superintendent
Trustees - LaNita Battles, Ministry Protection Director