As General Conference meets to decide the future organization of the United Methodist Church, anxiety hangs in the air. Will delegates adopt the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan or the Traditionalist Plan? Or will they defer decision-making altogether, buried in an avalanche of possible amendments and alternate options? That’s a real possibility.
So what happens if nothing happens at General Conference?
Last week I wrote that no matter what holds together or what falls apart this General Conference, or any General Conference, life and ministry must go on. But there’s a caveat. Leaders cannot go on with ministry as usual. This is the time to up your game. Especially if nothing happens at General Conference. Survival mentality does not bear good fruit.
Here are the 7 leadership abilities that you will need to cultivate especially if nothing happens at General Conference.
Before I lay out the 7 abilities, let’s consider the meaning of the word able. Able, the source of the word ability, has two primary definitions. First is having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something. Second is to have considerable skill, proficiency, or intelligence. As online and face-to-face options proliferate for people to engage in spiritual community and meet like-minded souls, churches need to be able to operate in both senses of the word.
Leaders need to not only take the opportunity to engage in ministry, but to do it skillfully and with considerable emotional intelligence. Why? The rising number of the spiritual but not religious, dones and nones, indicate that people won’t put up with mere survival-mode mentality. Click To Tweet
Now on to the 7 leadership abilities you will need to cultivate if nothing happens at General Conference. I’ll lay them out here, and then revisit them in the coming weeks, giving you tips and tools for how to skillfully cultivate these abilities.
1. Your way forward. Even if nothing definitive happens at General Conference, you will need to cultivate the ability to envision an intentional future for your setting. Don’t hold your breath waiting to see what others do before you act. As a spiritual leader, it’s your job to sense the movement of the Spirit in your setting, and to proactively respond.
2. A purpose. Now is the time to cultivate the ability to articulate why your congregation matters. Don’t assume your people or your community knows. Instead of letting the national news narrate the story, step up and frame your congregation’s story. Locals will appreciate it.
3. Vibrant ministries. You will need to cultivate the ability to connect the Gospel and daily life. Being clear about the connection is what makes ministries vibrant, relevant, and relatable. It also generates buy-in.
4. Faith. Cultivate the ability to move forward with uncertainty. Predictability sometimes masquerades as faithfulness. But these days it’s all about living purposefully in the midst of unpredictability.
5. Vision. Congregations shrink when leadership is weak. Weak leadership puts comfort, safety and likeability above vision, mission and values. Cultivate the ability to lead from the latter, not the former.
6. Apostleship. Churches shrink when buy-in is limited. Cultivate the ability to empower others. Otherwise, all the work falls back on your shoulders, narrowing ministry to what fits on your to-do list.
7. Love and forgiveness. I was getting ready to get resentful if nothing definitive happens at General Conference. Then it occurred to me that resentment is a weaker power than forgiveness. Likewise, fear is a weaker power than love. You and I will need to cultivate the ability to release resentment and fear, and to move on. Define what you stand for, not what you stand against. Then carry on bravely.
Join us for a free online workshop on Friday March 1, 11am-Noon Mountain Time, called “Does Your Church Dream Like Jesus?” Discover if it’s time to cultivate a Jesus-like dream that allows you to do all of the above. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to register and reserve your spot.
In the meantime, stay tuned for the prompting of the Spirit, and the guidance you need to cultivate these 7 abilities. You’ll need them if nothing happens at General Conference. Truth be told, you’ll also need them no matter what happens at General Conference. God is with you. You were called to lead at such a time as this.