Discipleship Adventure Guides
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BY REV. RODERICK MILLER
The vision and mission of the Baltimore-Washington Conference is to become like Christ as we call, equip, send and support spiritual leaders to make disciples and grow 600 Acts 2 congregations by 2012. Acts 2 congregations are those that bear fruit in four areas:
- Receiving believers by confession or reaffirmation of faith into the faith community (Acts 2:47);
- Increasing worship attendance (Acts 2:41);
- Mission involvement which includes ministry for the transformation of the community, activating the worshiping congregation into ministry (90% engaged in ministry), financially supporting mission locally and worldwide including apportionment payments (Acts 2:44-45) and
- Demonstrating signs of God's power and wonders (Acts 2:43).
The Baltimore-Washington Conference has made a fundamental shift in the way conference staff work with pastors and congregations. Adventure Guides are now partnering with pastors and congregations to assist them in living into the vision and mission. These collaborative relationships are focused on local church ministry by developing clear goals that will enable the growth of Acts 2 congregations. Adventure Guides serve collaboratively with pastors so that they take action toward bearing Acts 2 fruit.
Adventure Guides use relational leadership skills employed since Biblical times which have been demonstrated to be very powerful in ministry settings today. Adventure Guides ask insightful questions that allow people to clarify their vision and goals, to stay focused on the most important tasks, and to maintain a healthy balance between family and ministry. Adventure Guides walk alongside pastors and laity, listening to them, and guiding them in their own learning and action. The vision is that guiding ministry will lead to the development of discipling leaders of disciple- making churches that display Acts 2 fruits.
All superintendents and most members of the conference program staff are Adventure Guides in the four regions of the conference. The Adventure Guide's primary role is to meet monthly with three groups of 8-10 pastors (known as Discipler Groups) in a region. Once a month, Adventure Guides are also in contact with each of the pastors under their guidance for a guiding conversation. Adventure Guides also make themselves available to resource the congregations of the pastors they are guiding. Resourcing may occur in many ways including meeting with leadership groups for visioning and planning, presiding at charge conferences, conflict mediation, teaching, preaching, and helping to interpret the Discipleship Adventure as it relates to bearing Acts 2 fruit.
Every Adventure Guide accounts for the progress towards vision, mission and goals for each of the congregations that they are guiding. This accounting puts purpose into the partnership that is forged between Discipleship Adventure Guides and pastors. It is understood that a mutual investment of time, prayer, and action is intended to lead to visible fruit.
Adventure Guides have other responsibilities as well. Superintendents carry the disciplinary responsibilities of the district in which they are serving. Adventure Guides also carry conference-wide responsibilities in areas of ministry, administration and mission. These responsibilities, known as specialty areas, help accomplish the administrative and connectional work of the conference and provide direction for specialized ministries across the conference.
All Adventure Guides are under the direction of the four regional team leaders and participate with regional support staff in regional teams to set regional goals and to identify plans to increase Acts 2 fruit. Guiding ministry is strengthened as Adventure Guides meet regularly in regional teams and as a conference team for spiritual nurture, team building, skill development, and ongoing training. All Adventure Guides share a common purpose and motivation to respond to Jesus' commission to "Go and make disciples" by guiding pastors and congregations toward achieving their goals.
FAQ's for the Guiding Ministry
1. What can Adventure Guides do for pastors and congregations?
Adventure Guides are available to pastors and congregations to do the following: preach, teach, interpret the Discipleship Adventure, lead charge conferences, work with ministry teams and church councils, facilitate a visioning or planning process, assist in stewardship emphases, talk through strategic decisions, work through low level conflicts, and other areas that the Adventure Guide and pastor may discern together. All Adventure Guides fulfill many, but not all, of the functions of district superintendents.
2. What do superintendents do that is assigned strictly to them?
Superintendents carry out specific disciplinary mandates such as signing legal documents, authorizing charge conferences, and overseeing conference administrative matters in the districts.
3. Do Adventure Guides serve as staff for other Adventure Guides (e.g. superintendents)?
No. All Adventure Guides work together by building and maintaining mutual trust so that the needs of the regions and districts are met collaboratively.
4. What authority do Adventure Guides have?
All Adventure Guides are members of the extended cabinet and in covenant with one another are authorized to provide guidance to clergy and congregations concerning ministry and administrative matters and report to the bishop and extended cabinet about the ministry progress of pastors and congregations.
5. Whom do pastors call if they have a need?
Pastors are to call their Adventure Guides except in regard to legal matters, disciplinary issues and for authorization to hold a charge conference.
6. Specifically, whom do pastors call about:
a. A ministry need?
The Adventure Guide should be called with all ministry needs. They will work to meet the need themselves or will engage other persons to address it.
b. A question related to The Book of Discipline?
The Adventure Guides should be called with questions related to The Book of Discipline.
c. A pastoral concern?
In the cases of personal health issues and congregational issues, the Adventure Guide should be contacted.
d. A request for a special charge conference?
Superintendents should be contacted to authorize special charge conferences at which time a Discipleship Adventure Guide can be empowered to lead.
e. With a question or concern about a Discipleship Adventure Guide?
The regional team leader is to be contacted regarding matters concerning the Adventure Guides serving in their region.
7. What does a regional approach accomplish?
Organizing the conference into four regions makes it possible to deploy guides to work in only one region making them more effective. Regions have particular issues, concerns, traditions, and geographic and political realities that influence the ways churches do ministry in those settings. Adventure Guides working together in regional teams model the collaboration inherent in developing a guiding culture.
8. Will we still have districts?
Yes. Districts are mandated by The Book of Discipline and will continue to be the organizing area for carrying out the administrative functions of the annual conference. District efforts will center on training and equipping rather than programming functions.
9. How will regional teams function?
While there will be some regional differences in the ways the teams function, Adventure Guides will work together in each region to fulfill the same ministry for the same goals - to grow Acts 2 congregations.
10. What is a "specialty area"?
Specialty areas are ministries that Discipleship Adventure Guides have been charged to fulfill along with their guiding roles. These ministries are to be implemented throughout the conference. Specialty Areas include:
a. Regional Team Leader
b. Assistant to the Bishop
c. Connectional Life and Human Resources
d. Connectional Ministries
e. Discipler Group Design and Development
f. Hispanic Ministries
g. New Church Starts
h. Conflict Mediation
i. Immersion Series
j. Children and Worship
k. Urban Ministries
l. Rural Church
m. Congregational Development
"'Not by power, not by might, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." (Zechariah 4:6) We move forward with the desire to be open to the Holy Spirit to lead and to guide. Whatever good comes from this way of being and ministering together is of the Spirit working in and through us and our congregations. To God be the glory.