National Training Propels Leaders Along Their Journey of Discernment

Date Posted: 1/28/2016

A dozen clergy leaders explored new ministry options with TAC Director of New Church Development Rev. Jeff Olive at the New Church Leadership Institute.
To be, or not to be – a church planter?  That was the question on the minds of 12 eager clergy leaders from the TAC who recently attended a 3-day retreat event hosted by the New Church Leadership Institute. According to Rev. Jeff Olive, TAC Director of New Church Development, the event is an exploratory conference for lay or clergy who are just slightly curious or strongly interested. “In our group, several are ready to plant and others are exploring the possibility,” notes Jeff. “This no-commitment event allows participants to hear and know more about what it takes to start a new congregation.” Texas conference representatives included:

  • Rev. Wesley Duncan
  • Rev. Jon Thornsbury
  • Rev. Ben Bagley
  • Rev. Keith Tilley
  • Rev. Danny Yang
  • Rev. John Wayne McMann
  • Rev. Karen Tyler
  • Rev. Trent Oliver
  • Ms. Katie Oliver
  • Rev. Jacob Breeze
  • Rev. Franklin Rodriguez
  • Rev. Meredith Wende
  • Rev. Danny Yang
“I really enjoyed the NCLI seminar,” shares Rev. Keith Tilley, Klein UMC. “It provided insight and tools for personal discernment. Prayerfully processing it all and writing up a reflection helped me to listen more carefully to the Lord and to see more clearly whether planting a church is something He might be calling us into.”
"I consider NCLI analogous to Candidacy Summit,” adds Rev. Jacob Breeze, Chapelwood UMC, “in that it is a great first step in the journey we call discernment. If you think it is possible that the living God is calling you to partner in God’s work of establishing new churches, perhaps you should attend the next NCLI.” Jacob is already laying the foundation for a new ministry this year.
Jeff will lead another group next fall to NCLI and has scholarship money available for those interested in attending. He says the goals of the event are four-fold:
  •       Assist pastors and laity to discern if they are called to be a new church planter
  •       Connect potential church planters with successful new church planters
  •       Equip potential church planters with knowledge and skills for successful church starts.
  •       Prepare pastors and laity for a variety of New Church Start strategies/models
Rev. Danny Yang, St. Paul’s UMC, Houston, adds, “For anyone thinking about church starts, NCLI is an amazing gift that offers you several days to reflect on what it takes and whether you have the right DNA. Even more valuable than the course is the opportunity to take the class with colleagues and reflect together on the exciting things GOD has in store for our Conference."
According to Jeff, only some of the graduates may eventually have the opportunity to be appointed to start a new church or be the second pastor of a new church--yet, all will gain from better understanding the role of new churches in the spread of the gospel and revitalization of the church. ?For information on participating in this year’s NCLI contact Jeff Olive at ( or 713-521-9383 ext. 313.