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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    CLT and DLTs work towards clear disciple making processes

    April 18, 2018 / By Stephen J. Hustedt / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The Upper New York Conference Leadership Team (CLT) met with the District Leadership Teams (DLTs) at the United Methodist Center in Liverpool on Saturday, April 14. The focus of the meeting was designing systems to have intentional disciple making processes (DMPs) in every Upper New York church, which would be no small task.

    The teams have been preparing to engage in this work for well over a year. Last spring DLTs were introduced to the Ministry Action Plan (MAP) tool available here. Then, last fall the DLTs were introduced to the Loving, Learning, Leading (L3) process. Click here to read more about the L3 process.

    With the tools and environment for approaching complex work in place, the time had come to focus on leading around a ministry need that would have a positive impact on local churches in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

    The Rev. Dr. Aaron Bouwens and the Rev. Dave Masland shared that while there are some that do, very few Upper New York Conference Churches actually have a simple, clear DMP. However, clear DMPs are a key indicator of a church’s success in fulfilling the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

    The CLT believes strongly that helping local churches create DMPs will greatly help them fulfill the mission. They also believe that DMPs must be contextual and that the DLTs need to have the insight to know what local churches need in creating their DMPs. However, the CLT also believes that there are a few basic minimum characteristics for every fruitful DMP including:

    • A simple system that describes at least the following three major types of experience that will be present:  Engaging Worship that brings people into an experience of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace; Small Groups that allow people to go deep in their faith through learning, discussion, mutual support, and prayer; and, Outreach/Service in the community/world that shows God’s love, fosters real relationships between church people and unchurched people, and leads to invitations to come see Jesus.
    • Clarity about multiple doorways into the church for new people… and attention paid to hospitality for new people in each setting. New people can find their way to church through any of the three types of gatherings listed in #1. 
    • A pathway within the small group part of the system, that includes a series of experiences of learning and growing that every person experiences.  This might include things like:  a meeting with the pastor(s); a 101 class (or classes) where basic discipleship is taught; a 201 class (or classes) where people discover their spiritual gifts and are given an opportunity to see how they might offer their gifts for the good of the church and community;  a class where people learn what it means to be a member of a church before committing (including service, stewardship, sharing your faith with others, etc);  a process whereby everyone becomes engaged; service/outreach ministry in the community;  an invitation to ongoing small groups that provide places for people to go deeper and hold one another accountable to spiritual disciplines, personal goals related to faith and relationships, equipping for faith sharing/evangelism with new people, etc.
    • Clear movement from any one of the experiences in #3 to the next, and clarity about how people are invited to make these movements… when and where to go for the next step!
    • A memorable visual representation of the DMP that is re-created in many places and in diverse media around the church for everyone to see.
    • Constant talk about and teaching around the DMP by both lay and clergy leaders… so that it becomes the core culture of the church!

    This work is only beginning, and the hope is that DLTs will come to the Fall CLT/DLT gathering with a MAP for every local church in their district to have a DMP. In the meantime, the CLT and DLTs will work together on this important work through a Facebook group and CLT/DLT liaisons.

    Finally, acknowledging the United Methodist tendency towards using a nearly absurd amount of acronyms, there was also agreement that there should be a permanent United Methodist acronym glossary available on the Conference website. Such a glossary will be pulled together as soon as possible (ASAP).

    TAGGED / Vital Congregations

    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."