Conference Leaders Gather to Learn Disciple Making
On November 20, 2014, the Conference Leadership Team (CLT) was joined by the District Leadership Teams (DLT) from across the Texas Annual Conference to learn together at their annual gathering.
About 100 members of CLT and DLTs attended the joint meeting to hear from Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey. Many will remember her from our 2014 Annual Conference. She began the day with a devotional and a prayer walk around the room with “breakthrough” prayers. She described the “Missional Church Consultation Initiative” being conducted in the West Ohio Conference that is very similar to the TAC “Vibrant Church Initiative.” The purpose of the initiative is to jumpstart the church locally and at the district and conference level – “to open the floodgates.” She shared the series of blocks that can interfere with the flow and encouraged leaders to make adjustments, revise plans but to keep moving forward and not stagnate.
The day was filled with suggestions from her newest book Floodgates. She emphasized the importance of leaders’ ability to tell their faith story. How is God working in their own life and why the church is important. Everyone should be able to articulate that story in a short concise way and to share when there is an opportunity.
She also emphasized the power of “breakthrough” prayer and encouraged the group to train their members to open and close each gathering with prayer so that prayer is a part of everything that happens in the church. She pointed out opportunities for outreach that churches may be missing like ministry to new retirees, new parents at baptisms and neighbors immediately surrounding the church even if they are businesses. Those opportunities and many more are chances to disciple.
East District D.S. Rev. Chuck Huffman reflected, “First, she encouraged us to renew focus on sharing our story, our witness of the experience of Christ and his saving grace - that we not only need to be ready to share that story at any time and place, but also to share it in a clear and compelling way and within just a few minutes. And even as we rehearsed that with each other around tables, the atmosphere of the room and of our conversations changed dramatically! I particularly loved her question: "How differently would your finance committee meetings go if you started out by sharing your witness of the love of Christ with each other first?"
Central South D.S. Rev. Andy Noel was also struck by the reminder of the power of prayer. Andy stated, “"Dr. Kibbey opened my eyes to the power of transformational prayer unleashed in the neighborhood prayer walk. We are planning to implement her approach in a small urban church that is feeling called to minister to its neighborhood most urgent needs: to the effects of extreme poverty in the form of malnutrition, the plight of unwed mothers and public school mentoring. We are excited about how the Spirit will be working to unlock the floodgates!"
Rev. Huffman repeated the emphasis on prayer. “The second point that was important to me was her emphasis on breakthrough prayer, and the challenge of Bishop Huie to each DLT to select a church from their district and to focus in breakthrough prayer for that church, including prayer-walking the church. In our district, the DLT has taken that challenge to heart, selected one congregation, and we are in conversation with the pastor of that congregation for our prayer focus going forward, with the hope of involving the leadership of that church as well. And in the district office, we are currently working on a rotating prayer schedule that will have us praying for all of the congregations of the district throughout the year. We believe that this renewed emphasis on prayer will yield amazing results,” added Chuck.