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If you would like more information about Circuit Ministry for the Iowa Conference, please
contact your district superintendent or
Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson, Director of Congregational Excellence. firstname.lastname@example.org 515-974-8931
“The Mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” (The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, ¶120). Circuit ministry seeks to accomplish our mission as United Methodists in Iowa. The local church remains the primary point of disciple-making even as we shift to circuit ministry.
Specifically, “the Purpose of Circuit Ministry is to develop a circuit of missionally effective clergy and laity leading together in partnership through 1. Leadership Multiplication, 2. Missional Accountability & Oversight.” Circuits bring together churches to grow in our ability to “make disciples of Jesus Christ” and “transform the world.” Ministry best happens as passionate and gifted clergy and laity collaborate and partner together. As this happens, we expect generative leadership: leaders who are growing in their likeness of Christ and cultivating others in faith and leadership (“leadership multiplication”). Likewise, churches gain clarity of their expectations and plan of intentional ministry that can be communicated and supported (“missional accountability and oversight”).
Several factors prompt the shift to circuit ministry. First, people shared in the Vision 2032 listening sessions that they wanted to be better connected through authentic and faith-filled relationships. Also, isolation and stress have amplified the need for clergy to be able to come together to support and to pray for one another. Lower apportionment receipts accelerated the pace of the transition, as the Conference reduced the number of superintendents and staff available for support, resourcing, and guidance. Many conferences in the United Methodist connection see a similar reality and are currently adopting a strategy such as Circuit Ministry.
As illustrated in the accompanying “Painting a Picture of Circuits” article by Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson, Circuit Ministry seeks to be a framework from which fruitful, collaborative, and creative ministry can happen in the Iowa Conference. Each circuit will use a similar “framework” and “canvas” yet create its own picture of ministry that fits its unique context.
Within each district, the district superintendent assigns each church or charge to a circuit. Circuits, then, become the basic unit of connection for the Conference with a goal of healthy collaboration in regional, District, and Conference ministry and leadership development. Working in partnership within each circuit, clergy and laity, in communities of faith, will engage in fruitful ministry to fulfill our Mission.
For six-to-eight hours a month, pastors will gather in a “circuit meeting,” where they engage in a comprehensive Loving-Learning-Leading process of personal and communal transformation. These meetings are led by an appointed Circuit Clergy Leader and Circuit Laity Leader.
While each Circuit Meeting will have a similar process (Loving-Learning-Leading) and include essential elements (such as Covenant, Ministry Action Plans, some Conference-wide learning, and a Reflect-Adjust-Do process), circuits will adapt these Circuit Meetings to their needs, opportunities, and context. Every pastor appointed half-time or greater is expected to participate in these circuit meetings, while those appointed less than half time are invited. If a church does not have a pastor who can attend, the Staff Parish Committee will work with the district superintendent to name the church’s participant.
Leaders in the local church will continue to collaborate with the pastor to identify the primary goals for ministry. Uniquely at the change of appointment, the district superintendent will work with Staff Parish Relations Committee to establish those primary goals, called Missional Expectations. Through the Circuit Ministry process, the local church leaders, including the pastor, will utilize tools of the Ministry Action Planning process to become more missionally effective locally, across the circuit, and beyond.