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Casting new visions for new faith expressions

May 3, 2018

By Rodney Smothers
Director of Leadership and Congregational Development at the BWC

New Places for New People
In a recent article by Barna Research, they cited the fact that 51 percent of churchgoers don’t know the Great Commission. What surprised me in the article is that this stat was not taken from people who don’t attend church. Rather Matthew 28:18-20 (The Great Commission) is unfamiliar to 51 percent of churchgoers. If you are interested in learning more about that research you can locate the information in the new Barna report, “Translating the Great Commission.”

Creating New Discipleship Pathways
The Conference Lay Leader, Delores Martin and I are developing a new workshop for our congregations that focuses on developing discipleship pathways for our churches. One of the additional resources that we are recommending prior to the training is Mike Schreiner and Ken Willard’s new book, “Stride: Creating

A New Discipleship Pathway for Your Church.” This useful resource outlines a pathway that begins with prayer, reshapes mission, creates workable systems for churches of all sizes, and inspires leadership teams to coach congregations to measure and celebrate making disciples for Jesus Christ.

Partnering for Purpose
As we approach Annual Conference and prepare to refocus and realign our work as skilled servant workers, the five foci — Leadership Development, New Faith Expressions, Young People’s Ministry, Abundant Health, and Advocacy and Action — share a common goal to reach people for Christ through our prayers, engagement and witness.

Programs alone won’t change lives. Information by itself will not make a lasting difference. Our goal is to create a culture of transformation where we individually and as congregations ask a compelling question,

“Who will do this with me?”

Our strategic focus in creating vital faith communities is dependent upon us moving beyond our silos and creating larger community through shared ministry and mission. “We Are One” is more than a phrase; it’s an attitude that renews in us the gift of partnerships and teamwork.

New Faith Communities
The Biblical model for creating new faith communities doesn’t begin with a grant or loan, it begins with a vision for creating new places where people can encounter Christ. We have in the past used traditional models for new church development. The future invites us to consider: a-church-within-a-church, spiritual enterprise

(coffeehouse, dinner church, etc.,); on-line communities; fresh expressions; lay led, part-time planters; and missional churches.

With growing Hispanic populations within our Conference, we must also invest in creating strategic pathways to create new self-sustaining Hispanic ministries.

Collaborative Coaching Cohort
We are blessed in the Baltimore-Washington Conference to have large numbers of trained coaches among our clergy and laity. Look forward to an upcoming invitation to join me in creating a peer collaborative coaching group within the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Together, I believe we have the expertise and gifting to create a coaching culture in our Annual Conference that will significantly assist our pastors and congregations in meaningful ways. If this concept excites you and you would like to be a part of the design team for this cohort, please reach out to me by  or phone: 443.896.3417; or let’s find some time during Annual Conference to have a conversation.

My summer reading list includes
re-reading, “Failing Boldly: How Falling Down In Ministry Can Be the Start of Rising Up” by Christian Coon; “Flipping Church: How Successful Church Planters Are Turing Conventional Wisdom Upside-Down” by Michael Baughman; and Bob Crossman’s new book, “New Church Handbook: Nuts & Bolts for Planting New Churches in The Wesleyan Tradition.”

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