Knowing where you are going is more important than know how you will get there. - Gil Rendle
North Alabama Conference Priorities:
Natural Church Development
Effective Leadership for the 21st Century
Empowering a New Generation of Christians
After church consultant Gil Rendle met with the Cabinet in 2006 we devised a set of Priorities to recommend to the Conference and to focus our work. One of the challenges our church has had is to identify and to focus upon “the one thing needful” in our work. There are so many things we could do; what is the most important thing for us to do in this time and place?
These priorities have acted as magnets, drawing us forward, pulling us into a more vital future. The priorities have given us some tangible successes:
- We quickly became a leader in starting New Congregations. We are still closing three times more churches than we open, but we now have a structure for equipping new church pastors and supporting new communities of faith and we have reorganized our efforts so that we are starting a greater variety of new churches.
- A couple of hundred of our established congregations are experiencing renewal and vitality through their participation in Natural Church Development. At last we have a proven, effective way of equipping pastors and congregations to move forward.
- Empower a New Generation. Our Board of Ordained Ministry has reorganized itself to seek and ordain new young clergy. Although this has been a priority that has proved difficult to attain, the average age of our candidates for ministry is the sixth lowest of any Conference.
- Effective Leadership. We have defined clergy effectiveness in terms of ability to lead growth. We now have (in the Conference Dashboard) up to the minute measurementof results and fruit in key areas of growth for every congregation. We have exited some of our least effective clergy and we are attempting to administer our clergy appointment system with greater attention to fruit. Yet (judging from our results in terms of continued declines in giving and in attendance and membership) we have much more to do. Our Lay Leadership needs to take much more responsibility for effective, accountable leadership.
- Missions. Our newest priority is linked to the attainment of all our other priorities. It is also an area that shares much activity in all sorts of churches. And yet our poor Apportionment support and the number of congregations who are not participating in mission show that we’ve got lots to do.
How does your congregation look when measured by these priorities? The good news is that God is giving us new fruit. The challenge is that, we still have pastors and congregations who have yet to experience the joy of being drawn forward by this vision. And yet, by the grace of God, we are experiencing documented forward movement. Thanks be to God.William H. Willimon