Large church pastors told church should make difference in person's life

By Susan Pullin

Nearly 25 pastors of large congregations gathered Jan. 19 at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond to learn about outcome ministry, staffing, difficult conversations, stewardship and discipleship.

Pastors of large congregations gathered Jan. 19 at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond for Large Church Lead Pastor Training.

During the two-part Large Church Lead Pastor Training event, Gil Rendle, senior consultant with the Texas Methodist Foundation, spoke to the group about having an outcomes-based ministry that shows the impact or difference made in someone’s life.

“We are aspirational people,” said Rendle, “making disciples and transforming the world are aspirations, they are not outcomes.” Conversations about outcomes are difficult, he added, noting that to have an outcome-based ministry we need to reframe the way we think about ministry. We need to look at the difference we make and not the process of making disciples.

   Gil Rendle, senior consultant with the Texas
   Methodist Foundation, led discussions at Large
   Church Lead Pastor Training.

In addition to working with the Texas Methodist Foundation, Rendle is an independent consultant working with denominational leaders on issues of change and leadership. He previously served the Alban Institute as author, seminar leader and senior consultant. He is author of seven books, including Journey in the Wilderness: New Life for Mainline Churches and Back to Zero: The Search to Rediscover the Methodist Movement.

When asked what he took away from the session, the Rev. Kirk Nave, lead pastor at Braddock Street UMC in Winchester, answered, “That ministry needs to be outcomes. Mission Statements are good, but they don’t help us know what we have accomplished.”

After a short break for lunch, conversation turned to stewardship. The Rev. Mark Miller of Ebenezer UMC, Fredericksburg District, presented 10 questions the church should ask about stewardship. As he listed each question, Miller gave an example from his own church. After the question “Am I thanking regularly?” Miller said he handwrites thank you notes for first-, second- and third-time givers and to those who have increased their offering.

The discussion that followed Miller’s stewardship questions focused on multiple topics. The most discussed topic was annual stewardship campaigns. Many of those in attendance wanted to know if other churches liked them, didn’t like them or if they were useful anymore. This led to discussion of replacing the word “budget” and “other church words,” such as “stewardship,” with other words so that giving messages can reach a more general population. One pastor said his church had moved away from using the word “stewardship” (which, he said, was geared to older members), and, instead, uses the word “generosity” (geared toward younger members). He added that giving was going up because people tend to feel better about giving when it is out of generosity.

Pastors met in small groups to discuss a variety of topics during Large Church Lead Pastor Training.

As the session came to a close, the last topic was discussed in audience-based format. The discussion was on welcoming new people and discipling. The pastors want to know what everyone’s “next step” was when it came to welcoming potential new members. Ideas included orientation classes, Coffee with the Pastors, and the Alpha Program. After discussing welcoming new members, the discussion moved towards the discipling process. Suggestions included hiring staff who specifically work with new members, pairing new members with a mentor, directing new members to small groups and using service worship to engage the congregation to work with those who are new. The hope is to welcome new people and disciple them to become committed members.

The next Large Church Pastor’s Training Event will be held in Fall 2016.

Susan Pullin is a senior at Randolph-Macon College and was a January term intern in the Virginia Conference Communications Office.



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