Leadership Launch to offer leaders a learning adventure

Leading with Courage: Building Effective Teams: All church, district and conference leaders, register by Oct. 1 for this learning adventure. Bring a team and prepare to launch a new ministry.  Download the flyer.  Learn more… Register Online Now!

By John W. Coleman

The Rev. Jacqui King, of the UMC’s Discipleship Ministries agency, likes the title “Leadership Launch” for the Eastern PA Conference’s upcoming “leadership training adventure” on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 9 AM to 3 PM, at Quakertown UMC (1875 Freier Road, Quakertown). She likes it because too often the wisdom and ideas shared at such events stays in the heads of participants or in the materials that get filed away… like a rocket that never leaves the drawing board or the launch pad.  

“We’ll do some talking, learning and maybe visioning,” she said. “But I want people to get ready to build and launch exciting new ministries.” She will emphasize at least two of the keys for a successful launch: a courageous faith and effective teamwork.

King, a Philadelphia native who directs Discipleship Ministries’ U.S. Connectional Relationships, is coming back by popular demand. She electrified a roomful of church, district and conference leaders last year—starting with a dynamic ice-breaker exercise—at the first major leadership training event sponsored by the conference’s Connectional Table and Office of Connectional Ministries. That gathering was at Cedarville UMC, near the conference’s geographic center. This one will be further northeast at sprawling Quakertown UMC.   

King’s affable wit and wisdom, her spirituality and strategic approach made last year’s training memorable and will likely do so for this year’s “adventure.” But what she wants most is to make it actionable. She believes too many churches are in a “wait and see” holding pattern: waiting to see what pivotal changes may happen to the denomination and their annual conferences in 2020; waiting to see what their new pastor (or the next bishop) wants to do; waiting for God to offer a sign to nudge them forward; waiting for new members to join their church and bring new ideas; or…just…waiting.

King believes in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s clarion call to recognize “the fierce urgency of now.” She wants leaders to know it’s time for action, both for struggling churches and communities that need one another and for thriving churches that are challenged to invest faithfully and fruitfully in making disciples who can help change the world.

“You may have a lot of things you and God have talked about. But now it’s time to put those things into action,” she said. “We need to develop expectant hearts, nourished by prayer and faith in God.” 

King will encourage her audience to ask pointed questions, which may include:

  1. Will we covenant with God to do what God has invited us to do versus what we’ve always done? Will we ask not “Why us?” but “Why not us?”
  2. What gifts do we have and need to lead the church in new directions?
  3. What has God been calling to our attention, and what are we willing to do about it?
  4. How is God opening our hearts to reach new people today?
  5. How are we building and leading ministry teams that are connecting mission and community together?

“Some of us are waking up and asking, ‘Is this it? Is this all I’ve been working for?’” she said. “There’s too much fear holding us back… Fear is what causes those parking lot conversations where we attack decisions we just made in our church meetings inside.”

She will urge leaders to “live courageously in our personal journeys,” because “people can lead in much different ways when we awaken to the life God has called us to live and begin to stir up our gifts.”

Focusing more on engagement than expertise, King will use “integrated, interactive exercises” that people can take back to their churches to foster creative thinking, intentional planning, cooperation and shared responsibility.

She wants to help people figure out what to do, why and how. But the answer to “When?” is likely “Now”—whether it’s a community garden, an after-school program, health education or financial literacy classes, Bible studies in the community, or other ideas like those Bishop Peggy Johnson has been sharing in her talks with districts.

When it comes to identifying, recruiting and nominating new leaders—and we are in that season now—King suggests helping them consider not just what roles they are needed for, but the “Why” in their lives—why God may be calling them into a new ministry role, not just for the church but for their own personal development and discipleship experience.

King, an elder in the Texas Conference, previously served as Discipleship’s Director of Leadership for Congregational Vitality, designing and leading workshops and webinars, and coaching churches and leaders around the connection.

She formerly was Associate Pastor for Leadership and Laity Development at Jones Memorial UMC in Houston and also launched a totally online church. She also has a background in business sales and community development—both of which taught her to “listen to the people and understand their context and rhythms.”

What she has also learned and will eagerly teach are some other keys to fruitful ministry leadership:

  • Building trust and support through clear communication of a church’s mission and goals.
  • “Getting to know your people” through patient, attentive conversation.
  • Having integrity and a firm commitment to follow-through.
  • Getting out of ministry silos to work across lines and differences.
  • Celebrating the journey and its achievements at all stages.
  • Evaluating the bottom line and making needed adjustments to be both faithful and fruitful.

This training, she said, will be dynamic, unscripted but centered on trusting in the Holy Spirit. “I’m trusting that God will have already let people know why they are there, and that God will have assembled the spiritual gifts needed” to generate learning for vital ministry.

Leading with Courage: Building Effective Teams: All church, district and conference leaders, register by Oct. 1 for this learning adventure. Bring a team and prepare to launch a new ministry.  Download the flyer.  Learn more…  Register Online Now!