Congregational Development

The Eastern PA Conference is deeply committed to fostering the healthy development of new faith communities and congregations, along with revitalization and redevelopment of existing congregations, all to expand our faithful witness for Christ through evangelism, worship, fellowship and ministry. We are always seeking, sharing and strategizing around creative ideas and energetic efforts to expand the definition of church and the experience of congregational life. We strive to reach new people in new ways and to find, support and develop new leaders with new abilities, all in the vibrant spirit of living out Christ’s Great Commission.

Congregational Development, guided by the conference Congregational Development Team (CDT), provides many cutting-edge training and leadership opportunities, resources, and clergy and church assessment and development tools. Our goal is to help the conference and its congregations grow as they become more effective at winning souls for Christ and “making disciples for the transformation of the world.”

Featured

Image
Next Book Study on Plantation Jesus

The Eastern PA Conference’s Congregational Development Team (CDT) and Commission on Religion & Race (CORR) will collaborate again in October on a second conference-wide book study that focuses on racism in America. The weekly study, via Zoom, will gather readers for lively discussion on Wednesdays, Oct. 6, 13, 20 and 27, from 11 AM to 12 noon, to explore the racially conscious 2018 book Plantation Jesus .  

CORR members will facilitate the study, which will include breakout rooms for small-group discussion. CORR and CDT together will offer free e-books to the first 50 study registrants. Learn More

Register Now

Image
Mission Rift: Leading through Church Conflict

The Congregational Development Team’s August CDT Book Club selection will be the Rev. David Woolverton’s newest book, Mission Rift: Leading through Church Conflict. Woolverton, who frequently teaches courses on overcoming church conflict in Eastern PA, will lead the four-week study on Wednesdays, August 11 to Sept. 1, at 11 AM. Once again, the first 25 registrants will receive the book’s Kindle version for free. Save the dates. Registration will open in June.

Learn More

Evangelism

"The winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ," reads one dictionary definition of "Evangelism." And according to Wikipedia, "Evangelism is the preaching of the gospel or the practice of giving information about a particular doctrine or set of beliefs to others with the intention of converting others to the Christian faith." No wonder so many people recoil at the very mention of what some shyly call "the 'E' word." Even our United Methodist Church mission statement is "Making disciples of Jesus Christ..."

Yes, our evangelism is indeed mission-focused on "winning," reviving, "preaching," "converting" and "making disciples." But the task is not intended to be so transitive or imposing. "Evangelism is one beggar showing another where to find bread," said famed theologian D.T. Niles. It is about showing the way or sharing the bread of life, if you will, but not force-feeding it to the hungry soul. To avoid the offended reaction "Evangelism" too often draws, we are now more apt to call it "Faith-sharing." Indeed, it is literally sharing a message, not a mandate, that Christ is and has the answer one seeks.

The Eastern PA Conference teaches and encourages faith-sharing that focuses on relationships more than religion. We encourage churches to find and come alongside seekers and sojourners on their journeys of exploration, to share their pain and struggles, hear their questions, suggest some answers, and point the way that leads to hope, peace and maybe even joy.

Featured

UMCom Podcast  'Evangelism -- Sharing the Good News'

In the newest episode of "Get Your Spirit in Shape," Priscilla Pope-Levison, professor and author of "Models of Evangelism," helps us find our way of sharing the Good News more naturally and comfortably.

When we think of evangelism, many Christians feel some guilt. We know it is something we ought to be doing, but it makes us uncomfortable. In this podcast episode, Joe Iovino talks to Dr. Pope-Levison, professor and Dean at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and the author of Models of Evangelism. She helps us better understand what evangelism looks like in real life (in contrast to the caricatures) and encourages us to explore ways to share the Good News with others more naturally and comfortably. Listen to podcast.

Watch podcast on YouTube.