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.”

Gordon HendricksonStaff Contact

Gordon Hendrickson
Coordinator, Congregational Development
(267) 258-9507

Congregational Development Team
  • Chairperson: The Rev. Michael S. Netznik

Each year the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church recognizes exemplary efforts of clergy and lay persons who share the Good News of Jesus Christ – Word, Sign, and Deed – through their daily lives.

Your nomination of an outstanding youth, layperson or member of clergy ensures that the legacy of evangelism continues to be recognized, not just for the well doing, but for the making of disciples for the transformation of the world.  Please send us your nominees, and tell us their stories!

Download the PDF for full Nomination details.
MissionInSite Logo
The Congregational Development Resource Team and The Office of Urban and Global Ministries are partnered to bring MissionInsite to the local churches of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.  We are licensed for one primary user from each local church to access the database. Learn more

Getting started: How to Register

Lifetree Café is a “chat and chew” experience but in a new venue, with a new spirit and a whole new conversation. Folks–both “churched” and “unchurched”–are dropping in to listen, learn and laugh together. They view thought-provoking videos on diverse topics of broad interest, converse freely and openly without judgment, share a meal together, and get to know one another, while witnessing the love of Christ in action.

The Lifetree Café motto is, “You’re welcome just as you are. Your thoughts are welcome; your doubts are welcome. We’re all in this together. God is here, ready to connect with you in a fresh way.” Learn more…

Want to learn more about Lifetree Cafe and the weekly, contemporary topics being explored in video clips and friendly conversation? Visit the informative Lifetree Cafe Website and watch a video about this exciting new, disciple-making outreach ministry.

Lifetree-squareNews about LifeTree Cafe:

2018-19 Local Pastor Licensing School Application

Register now if you are interested in Pastoral Ministry as:
  • A certified and licensed Local Pastor
  • A Growing Church Licensing School Pastor

Come to a Licensing School sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and held at the teaching pastor’s church or at the Eastern PA Conference Center.

Course instructors are clergy in the Eastern PA Conference and/or from PATH 1, a church growth initiative of Discipleship Ministries, UMC.

  • Cost: $1,100 for all five segments toward licensing or $250 per segment.
Five Major Areas of Study:
  • Church Administration–Leading a Congregation: Larry Leister, April 7, 21, May 5, 2018 Lititz, UMC, PA
  • Pastoral Care: Truman Brooks, June 9 and July 14, 28, 2018 at West Chester UMC, PA
  • Congregational Development at EPA Conference Center, Norristown, PA
  • One day event—August 4, 2018, from 8 AM to 5 PM:
    • Growing Church/SLI, Four Stations of the Holy Spirit, Lifetree Cafe : Gordon Hendrickson
    • Mission & Outreach/Tom Bandy: Peter Wernett & Gordon Hendrickson
  • Preaching, Worship & Sacraments: Tom Haugh, Sept. 15, 29, Oct. 13, 2018 at Mt. Hope UMC, PA
  • Christian Education: Michael Roberts, Dates TBD at EPA Conference Center
Who Should Attend?
  • Persons who want to be trained in a Growing Church Licensing School
  • Persons who want to be trained as certified, licensed Local Pastors

For more information contact Gordon Hendrickson at 2672589507

Information and Application for Licensed Local Pastor School [.doc]

Re-envisioning Congregational Development

By the Rev. Gordon Hendrickson

Part 1

I remember when I went to Annual Conference in the early 2000s and heard what new church development had become.  We had changed the initial paradigm of developing new churches from the traditional “parachute drop,” where an appointed pastor descends on a community fully resourced to create a new church from scratch, costing a million dollars in full-elder compensation, land and building construction. Now it became a group meeting in a school or a diner or an existing church with no immediate expectations of having a full-time pastor or land or buildings. Read More

Part 2

When we are spiritually ready to make disciples, we will need to do another fundamental shift in how we do ministry. Our world is changing so quickly that the church is at least a generation behind in reaching new people for Christ. 

Here is the first fundamental change: We do not have a pastor just for our congregation.  Here is the second: The congregation does not exist just for itself. Read More

Learn about the seven seasons of church planting

Growth isn’t instantaneous. In nature as in the life of a new church, there are seasons of gradual, quiet change leading up to abundant full bloom. To learn more, read Seven Seasons of Planting a New Church, one of the foundational strategic documents of New Church Starts (Path 1). The free document is available in English, Spanish and Korean. To download, go to

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