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.”

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The Bible With and Without Jesus

CDT Book Club, June 9 - June 30

The Eastern PA Conference Congregational Development Team (CDT) Book Club will sponsor a new weekly book study on Zoom—and its first led by a woman author—in June when it welcomes Amy-Jill Levine, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, and Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt... Learn More

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Mission Rift: Leading through Church Conflict

CDT Book Club, August 11 - Sept. 1

The Congregational Development Team’s next 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.

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Seminary offers online Bivocational Ministry course

Is your congregation considering a part-time pastor? Are you considering a career in ministry alongside a secular job? Then the new course, Bivocational Ministry for Congregations and Pastors, may be just what you need. The Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry at Lancaster Seminary will offer the six-week, online course on Wednesday nights, May 26–June 30, 7–8:30 PM.

The Rev. Darryl W. Stephens, will teach the course via Zoom. He is director of the academy and UM Studies at the seminary. The class offers 2.5 CEUs and costs only $100 per participant (or $50 for auditors, no credit), thanks to “generous grant funding.” See registration and instructions for payment.

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.

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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.