Congregational Development

God calls on God’s people to make disciples. A sign and a result of deepening discipleship is church growth. The BWC’s Office of Vibrant Communities oversees and nurtures new church starts in creating new places for new people, and assists in the renewal and revitalizing of faith communities.

By being relevant and vital, United Methodists will touch more lives and draw more people to Christ. Our primary purpose is not to help churches grow, but rather we seek to help them reach more people with the good news of the Gospel, to grow more people as gifted and called disciples of Jesus, and to send more people into the world to love and serve God and their neighbors in all they do. We provide tools, resources, workshops, events and training to help congregations more effectively make disciples for the transformation of the world.

Upcoming Events and Scholarship Opportunities

Global Leadership Summit | August 10-11, 2017
Sponsored by Willow Creek Community Church
The Global Leadership Summit is proud to bring a high-quality local experience at Premier Host Sites. The Summit is simulcast live in HD from the Willow Creek campus to more than 600 satellite locations nationwide. There are Five Maryland locations: Abundant Life Church in Glen Burnie, Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, First Baptist Church in Landover, Frederick Christian Fellowship in Frederick, Mountain Christian Church in Joppa. Get a unique blend of vision, inspiration and practical skills you can immediately apply. Learn from Bill Hybels and the diverse 2017 faculty. Leverage the Summit as a resource to transform yourself and your community. Join a community of like-minded Christians from 128 countries and 60 languages who attend the Summit around the world. We’re convinced that leadership is critical to church and organization vitality. A church’s effectiveness in pursuing its God-given mission is largely dependent on the character, devotion and skill of its leadership core—which can be formal or informal, staff or volunteer, clergy or laity. The influence and impact of the church is felt most fully when Christ-centered leaders are at the forefront of establishing and growing well-led local churches and organizations…key reasons why The Global Leadership Summit exists. The church is at its best, as God’s love and care inevitably spills out into our neighborhoods, towns and cities through acts of love, justice, mercy, service and restoration.

Launchpad Training for Planting Pastors and Teams | August 10-12, 2017
Hosted by The Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, Neptune City, NJ
Similar to a boot camp, but focused on the varied and changing planting contexts of the NEJ.  Launchpad was created for the Northeast USA.  Hundreds have been through this training.  It is taught in both Spanish and English.  The event is hosted by Greater New Jersey Conference this year in Neptune NJ, about an hour south of NYC.  Paul Nixon and Sam Rodriguez will be the lead facilitators.

School of Congregational Development 2017 | August 17-20, 2017
Peachtree Road UMC, Atlanta, GA
Join Us At The Lord's Table. One of the highlights of the School of Congregational Development is gathering to pray, sing, and learn in our worship and plenary sessions. This year we have a group of leaders who will be encouraging us to look at the big picture. On Thursday, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson will start us off with worship and communion as she focuses on the theme of this year's event "At the Lord's Table". Regular registration is $375 through July 15; after July 15, registration is $425. The cutoff date for hotel special rates at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead is July 5. View the full lineup of speakers.

Weird Church Camp | August 29-September 1, 2017
Estes Park, CO 
Paul Nixon, The Epicenter Group WHEN DID YOU LAST GO TO CAMP? Weird Church Camp in Estes Park, Colorado is a gathering of leaders who long for a renewed church and who are unafraid to color outside the box with the Spirit to discover that church! August 29 - September 1: 3 nights and 4 days. An eclectic group of fellow leader-pilgrims will gather, coming from all parts of the USA. Spouses and kids are invited to come along. The gathering is being convened by Beth Estock and myself (co-authors of the 2016 book Weird Church: Welcome to the 21st Century) and led by an excellent design team. It is not too late to register. There will be CEUs available and, more importantly, collaborators who will gather to encourage one another, share ideas, and develop twenty-first century Gospel partnerships, that transcend denominational tribe. Learn more.

Five Things Your Visitors are Thinking But Won't Ask | September 9, 2017
Location: To be determined
It’s been said that every church wants to grow.  If that is true, are we poised for growth in the way we treat and attend to our new visitors? While you wouldn’t think so, guest readiness is one of the most important issues facing the church in this present time, and many churches have unintentionally become blind to their own realities.   This workshop will include instructions on how to develop and train a more intentional and welcoming hospitality team, how to and why to develop a formal child check in procedure, how do audit signage, and what to do with your existing space.  Jason Moore from Midnight Oil will help you discover these and so much more to help you recognize what you may have been missing for years.  Come… learn…  discover… Bring a team…

Exponential Regional DC 2017 | September 11-12, 2017 
New Life Christian Church, Chantilly, VA
Dream Big is the theme for Exponential 2017. Jesus challenged us with a big dream. If He had sketched out His big dream for His Church, we think it would be something like, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The dream that Jesus gave His followers was the dream of a movement. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the ends of the earth—that is a very big dream! We are here because of that dream. As Christ followers and leaders of His church, Jesus is asking us to also dream big! Registration required – $109 per person, or $549 for a group of 10.  Rate increase July 14. Learn more.

Leadership Institute 2017 | September 27-29, 2017
The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Kansas City, MO
Leadership Institute 2017 will provide an opportunity to invest in your leadership and the leadership of your team through three days of General Sessions developed with a focus on practical ministry tools, leadership growth strategies and inspired vision for ministry. Hear form compelling line-up of speakers, who will bring messages on leading with Hope, Meaning and Purpose. Learn more about registration, lodging, speaker and pre-institute


  • Super Early Bird: through July 13 - $149, Pre-Institute $35/session
  • Early Bird: July 14-August 31 $159, Pre-Institute $45/session
  • Standard: September 1-27, $199, Pre-Institute $49/session
  • SPECIAL Young Adult discount rate: $49 through September 27, for individuals 28 and younger and only applies to Leadership Institute

Exponential East 2018 HERO MAKER | Save the Date! February 26-March 1, 2018
Orlando, FL
Hero Maker is the theme for Exponential 2018. The theme focuses on the shift from being the hero to coming alongside others for them to become the heroes in our church’s unfolding story. Marked by a sense of holy and humble tenacity, leaders of a Level 5 multiplying church shift from being the hero and instead leverage their power and influence to become hero makers that lift up and support others. Join thousands of church planting leaders for four days of inspiration, encouragement and equipping at Exponential East church planting conference in Orlando. The conference will feature 175+ speakers, 125+ workshops, 9+ tracks, 5,000 church planting leaders and sunny Orlando, Florida. Don’t miss the largest gathering of church planting leaders in the world. Learn more.


Seeking funding for new church start coaching, new faith communities coaching, or other coachingContact Rev. Tony Love or Jo Chesson.