Good Idea Webinars

 Good Idea webinars are a series of interactive presentations designed to address issues and concerns of pastors and laity during the COVID-19 crisis. Good Idea webinars are a joint effort of the Office of Congregational Excellence, Office of Clergy Leadership and Excellence, the Cabinet, and lay leaders of the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. They are held on Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. 

Upcoming Webinars

9/24 to 9/25

Instead of a second Good Idea webinar in September, we encourage you to sign up for the Leadership Institute, sponsored by The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection:

Past Webisodes

1: Basics of Online Worship

Learning the Basics of Online Worship in the midst of the challenging times of the Coronavirus is essential for faith communities to reach their members, friends in their communities, and beyond. Rev. Matt German, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa, leads an interactive conversation about tips, tools, and techniques of an electronic worship experience.


2: What Parents Should Say About Covid-19 

Presenter is Gladys Noll Alvarez MSW, LISW, IMH-E ® who is a Trauma Informed Care Project Coordinator at Orchard Place/ Child Guidance Center. She has worked with children and families since 1976 when she was a counselor with the Upward Bound program at Coe College. Her passion is providing education and trainings which promote a trauma-informed care approach to interactions with children, families and in the work environment. 


3: What to Do With Holy Week and Easter

Are you wondering how to make Easter Worship special? Looking for some creative ideas? Have some ideas to share with others? 

Our guests were Rev. Brody Tubaugh, Pastor of The Shueyville United Methodist Church & Rev. Eric Schubert, Pastor of the Greenfield United Methodist Church. Our host was Rev. Melissa Drake, Associate Director for Congregational Excellence. Melissa is the incoming Superintendent of the Southwest District and will formally begin those duties on July 1. She has a passion for small churches and rural communities. 

4: Faith & Finances in Difficult Times 

As a church leader are you worried about the financial impact of COVID-19 on your congregation? Are you concerned about what to do when passing a plate is not possible? If so, then Rev. Dr. Katharine Yarnell, Director of the Iowa United Methodist Foundation, may have some answers for you.  The Foundation is a charitable nonprofit that has been serving churches, organizations, individuals and families across Iowa for over 50 years. The host is Rev. Ron Carlson, Superintendent of the Northwest District and the cabinet representative to Conference Council on Finance and Administration.

5: Caring for Our Neighbors 

Caring for Our Neighbors - Looking for ways to connect with your neighbors and be in ministry during this age of social distancing? Looking for some ideas to show you care? Perhaps you have some ideas to share. Our guests in this episode of Good Idea Webinars are the staff of Ames, Collegiate United Methodist Church. The host is Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Director of Clergy & Leadership Excellence.



6: Best Practices for Funerals: A Conversation with A Funeral Director 

Wondering about best practices for funerals during the Covid-19 outbreak? Looking for some ideas? Have some ideas to share? Our guest is funeral director Marty Riekin, owner of Riekin Veith in Oakland, IA and Rieken & Duhn in Griswold, IA. Marty grew up in Griswold, IA where he graduated from Griswold High School in 1993. He attended South Dakota State University and graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science. Marty attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, IL and graduated in 1998. He worked at several different funeral homes before he and his wife Kristy purchased Vieth Funeral Home from Alan and Suzanne Vieth in 2001. They purchased the Duhn Funeral Home in 2012.  The host is Rev. Melissa Drake.

7: Ministry Ideas for Laity

As United Methodists we believe in the priesthood of all believers. We believe that all people are called to ministry through baptism and not just our clergy. Wondering how lay people might be engaged in ministry given the Covid-19 outbreak? Want to know more about how you might make a difference? Have some ideas to share? Our guests are Lynn Calvert and Angela Hansen-Abbas. Lynn is well known as one of the Deans for the School for Lay Ministry and is an active leader of the United Methodist Women. Angela is the lay leader in the central district and has been actively engaged in local, district and conference ministry. Our host will be Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck the Director of Clergy and Leadership Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference. 

8: God is With Us: Care of self, Congregation & Community through Trauma, Grief and Fear  

How many times have you heard “the world will never be the same” or watched the news and been horrified by the growing number of Covid-19 cases? Have you wondered what the long-term impact of Covid-19 might be on the wellbeing of your congregation and community? United States Air National Guard Chaplain Rev. Dr. Steve Peters will lead a conversation entitled, “God is With Us: Care of Self, Congregation & Community through Trauma, Grief and Fear.”  It will focus on moral injury, trauma response, and grief as experienced with his deployment with Angel Flights and what that might teach us about dealing with the grief our communities are experiencing. Chaplain Peters is assigned to the 185th Air Recovery Wing and was commissioned in 2008. Before going full-time with the Air Guard, he pastored Trinity United Methodist Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa. He is a graduate of Newton High School, Newton, Iowa; Central College, Pella, Iowa; and Candler School of Theology, Atlanta Georgia and Wesley Theological Seminary. Prior to moving to Fort Dodge, Chaplain Peters served St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Ankeny 1st United Methodist Church and Bedford/Gravity United Methodist churches, all in Iowa.  Our host will be Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Director of Clergy & Leadership Excellence.

9: Fighting Isolation During Social Distancing 

Fighting Isolation During Social Distancing - Struggling with social distancing? Lonely? Missing people? Want ways to avoid feeling down? Do you have some ideas to share that have worked for you? This episode of Good Idea focuses on Fighting Isolation During Social Distancing. The guest presenter is Rev. Dr. Mary Bellon, PhD. Mary is the Director of the Office of Pastoral Care and Counseling for the Iowa Annual Conference. Dr. Bellon’s ministry provides confidential counseling and consultation for clergy and ministerial professionals and their families. She teaches about ethics and care and nurture at the School for Lay Ministry and in the Course of Study and provides consultation and support at the School for Ministry. She leads staff days apart and district support days for groups desiring coaching and leadership development. Dr. Bellon employs a range of mental health techniques, such as mindfulness, humor, spirituality and listening, to help people strengthen personal practices of wellness, contemplation, and relaxation. Her ministry also gives people opportunities to address issues from spiritual growth, depression or burn out to anxiety or concerns with family relationships. The host is Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson, Director of Congregational Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference. 

  • Fighting Isolation During Social Distancing Resource Sheet
  •  Fighting Isolation During Social Distancing Podcast


09 - Good Idea Webinars - Fighting Isolation During Social Distancing with Rev Dr Mary Bellon from Iowa Annual Conference on Vimeo.

10: Small/Rural Church Struggles & Solutions  

Are you part of a small or rural church? Have you felt like the resources and ideas offered to deal with Covid-19 are not possible for you? Do you have some ideas that have worked for your small church you would like to share with others? Small membership and rural churches have faced unique challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak. During this webinar, we’ll talk about how they can utilize their strengths to overcome these challenges and lead in unique and creative ways.  Our guest is Rev. Allen Stanton is the Executive Director of the Turner Center at Martin Methodist College. Before coming to Martin Methodist College, he served as the pastor of a small United Methodist Congregation in North Carolina. Prior to serving in the local church, he served as the Rural Church Fellow at the Institute for Emerging Issues, a non-partisan public-policy think tank at N.C. State University. At the Turner Center, Allen focuses on how rural churches can become leaders in economic and community development and building strong community partnerships. Allen has written for a variety of publications, including Practical Matters, Faith and Leadership, and Ministry Matters. He is currently completing his first book, Reclaiming Rural, for publication in late 2020.  Our host is Rev. Melissa Drake, currently Associate Director of Congregational Excellence of the Iowa Annual Conference.

  • Small/Rural Church Struggles & Solutions Resource Sheet
  • Small/Rural Church Struggles & Solutions Podcast


11: Youth Ministry: Staying Connected  

Are you a youth group leader or Sunday School teacher? Wondering how to stay connected with the kids and youth? Are you looking for ways to encourage them in faith when you can’t meet face-to-face? Have some thoughts or ideas to share with others on this topic? Our guest is Kelsie DeReus, Director of Youth and Connectional Mission at First United Methodist Church in Marion, IA.“ None of us were trained for this, but I think back to Paul, when he wrote the letters to the various cities and he would often express his yearning to be with them, but despite not being able to be with them he could still encourage them on in the faith,” DeReus said “That’s where we are at in youth ministry right now. While we yearn to be with our students, to disciple them, we simply cannot.”   During this webinar DeReus will be discussing the strategy for ministry that some of their student leaders, Tyler Hungate, and she put together not only to stay connected, but to encourage them on in this time. DeReus has been with Marion church for about 2 ½ years. She and her family are very passionate about youth ministry, discipleship, and shaping leaders. She is the proud parent of 4-year-old, Brinley, and 2-year-old, Daxton, who like to call their youth students their friends, and often have Jesus dance parties with them.  The host for this Good Idea Webinar is Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson, Director of Congregational Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference. 


12: Leadership Now for A Better “Normal” 

Leadership Now for A Better “Normal” – Plato in The Republic wrote “A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem.” Today we might say “necessity is the mother of invention.” Our churches have done amazing things since the start of the Covid-19 situation in ways none of us dreamed possible until we had no choice. How many times have you thought or said “when things get back to normal…” Perhaps now is the time to ask some critical leadership questions: What should never get back to normal? What have we learned that we need to continue moving forward? How will we be different, in a good way, moving forward and what do we do now to make sure those changes take root? Our guest is Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Director of Clergy and Leadership Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference. Lanette has a passion for helping people to recognize their leadership style and skill set and develop in areas that will make them the very best version of themselves as a leader. Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson, Director of Congregational Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference, is the host.

  • Leadership Now for A Better “Normal” Resource Sheet
  • Leadership Now for A Better “Normal”  Podcast

13: What is Going on with Annual Conference 

Wondering what is going on with Annual Conference in June? Because of COVID-19 Bishop Laurie has announced Annual Conference will be done differently this year.

The host will be Rev. Ron Carson, District Superintendent of the Northwest District. 

  • What is Going on with Annual Conference Podcast


14: Beyond the Basics of Online Church  

Ready to take your online worship to the next level? Maybe you started online ministry because of Covid-19 but now you are thinking about how this ministry might reach new people when the pandemic ends? Our guests are Rev. Nate Nims and Rev. Luke Fillmore. Nate, pastor of Grace UMC in Des Moines, is a lifelong United Methodist and an elder in the Iowa Annual Conference. Nate attended Drew Theological Seminary and Simpson College and is currently appointed to Grace Des Moines. Nate has served on and as the chair of the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry, was a member and chair of the board at ThreeHouse: a Wesley Foundation at the University of Northern Iowa, a Residence in Ministry facilitator, and is a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Luke is a provisional elder in the Iowa Annual Conference, graduate of Iliff School of Theology, and pastor of Shenandoah First UMC and Hamburg First UMC. Luke is interested in the ways that language, music, community, and the presence of God interact with each other, imbue meaning, and allow us to know and be known." Our host is Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Director of Clergy and Leadership Excellence.


15: What to Do with VBS & Children’s Ministry

What to Do with VBS Children's Ministry was focused on what to do with VBS and Children’s Ministry in our Covid-19 world. Guests were Tony Stogsdill and Emily Delikat from Cokesbury.

  • What to Do with VBS & Children's Ministry Resource Sheet
  • What to Do with VBS & Children's Ministry Podcast 

16: What’s Up With Camps? 

Bryan Johnson, Director of Camping and Christian Formation for the Iowa Annual Conference shares what is going on with camps this summer. It was announced at the end of April there will be no onsite camping at Wesley Woods or Camp Okoboji this summer. The host will be Rev. Ron Carson, District Superintendent of the Northwest District.  The Good Idea Webinars are a joint effort of the Office of Congregational Excellence, Office of Leadership and Clergy Excellence, the cabinet, lay leaders Lynn Calvert and Angela Hansen-Abbas and the Communications team.    

17: Stewardship in a Covid-19 World

Rev. Scott Keele-Kober and Rev. Dr. Scott Meador will be our guess. This team have been co-teaching stewardship at the School for Lay Ministry for a number of years and will be presenting some of their teaching to us with a special focus on the impact of Covid-19. Our host will be Lynn Calvert, President of The United Methodist Women and Dean of the Iowa School for Lay Ministry. 

18: Iowa Conference Re-Entry Plan

Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Director of Clergy and Leadership Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference talks about the Re-Entry Plan for the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church. This plan is guided by John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules. Hosted by Rev. Melissa Drake, incoming superintendent of the Southwest area.


19: Circuit Ministry Model

Do you have questions about circuit ministry? Have you heard about this new model the conference is moving toward but are unsure about what it means for you? Our guest was Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson, Director of Congregational Excellence for the Iowa annual conference and Rev. Paul Wilcox DS of the Northeast District. Jaye and Paul will talk about the circuit ministry model, the role of the circuit leader, the timeline for implementation and take your questions.  This webinar will be hosted by Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Director of Clergy and Leadership Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference. 


20: New Communities of Faith

 Did you know some churches are thriving in this season of Covid-19? One of those churches happens to be one of the newest churches in the Iowa Annual Conference – Ottumwa Grace. This webinar features Rev. Bill Poland, Director of New Communities of Faith for the Iowa Annual Conference and Rev. Chris Childs, pastor of Ottumwa Grace. Grace is a vital merger of three United Methodist Churches that combined in a unique way creating a new United Methodist Church with a new mission, new staff, and a new location. Our host will be Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson, Director of Congregational Excellence.


21: Re-Entry Revisit: Everything Other Than Indoor Worship

While our last re-entry webinar fielded mostly indoor worship questions, church life includes so much more.  This webinar answers your questions about service, small groups, leadership, discipleship, and outdoor worship for this season of navigating the “yellow phase”.   Listen and watch  the Good Idea Webinar with guest Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck, Director of Clergy and Leadership Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference.  


22: Staff Teams in the Covid-Age

The pandemic has shaken even the steadiest, highest-performing teams.  Learn how to navigate staffing and social distancing, performance goals and evaluation, or even the personal stresses of illness, finances, and family.  Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck and Rev. Ryan Christenson share their insights and advice, and participants share their experiences and best practices.  Lanette is the Director of Clergy and Leadership Excellence for the Iowa Annual Conference, and Ryan serves as Associate Director for Congregational Excellence.  

23: Hospitality Beyond the Screen

We had some technical issues and will reschedule this webisode.

24: Back to School Partnerships

Learn how churches partner with school to help the kids of our communities in this Covid-19 age. School administrators from around Iowa will share their insights and take your questions. Guests are Sharon Dentlinger, Superintendent of the Interstate 35 Community School District; Julie Robinson, Principal in the Iowa City Community School District; and Carl Turner, retired Superintendent of the Storm Lake Community School District.


25: Bidwell-Riverside & Hawthorn Hill

Bidwell-Riverside & Hawthorn Hill - Covid-19 has caused us all to rethink and reimagine our work and world. This Good Idea Webinar looked at how the ministry of Bidwell-Riverside & Hawthorn Hill has changed in this season and how churches can partner with them.

26 - Hospitality Beyond the Screen (Take 2)

We know how to do hospitality in a normal season, but what does hospitality that links our online worship to our online worship? How will we include and welcome those many people we have reached in our online worship now that we are considering returning to in person worship? April Buske joins us for a Good Idea Webinar hosted by Rev. Melissa Drake, Superintendent of the SW Region.