Christenson, Drake to be Associates for Congregational Excellence
Bishop Laurie Haller has announced that Rev. Ryan Christenson and Rev. Melissa Drake will be the two new Associate Directors for Congregational Excellence.
Describing the role, Bishop Laurie Haller said, “the Associate Directors for Congregational Excellence are of critical importance for our conference because they will be working directly with local congregations around vital ministry. These churches, in return, will be equipped to resource other congregations as, together, we become God’s hope for the world made real through faithful leaders, fruitful communities, and fire-filled people.”
Dr. Jaye Johnson is the Conference’s Director for Congregational Excellence. “The purpose of the Office of Congregational Excellence is to prepare congregations to multiply — that is reach new people for Christ.” The new Associates will be working directly with Johnson.
Endorsing the new Associates
In welcoming Christenson as an Associate Director, Johnson said, “Ryan has a demonstrated record of helping us do just that — preparing congregations to multiply. He has a unique ability to assess the needs of congregations using tools such as the Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT), DISC, and Natural Church Development and coach pastors and congregations in moving forward.”
Johnson noted that Drake has served as a Field Outreach Minister for the Southwest District. This year she“has been an Interim Associate for Congregational Excellence.” Johnson also noted, “Melissa demonstrates the ability to reach new people for Christ…She excels at assisting congregations to live boldly into the future that God desires.”
Bishop Laurie observed, “Ryan is highly skilled in helping congregations realistically see who they are and then guiding them along a pathway to vitality. He encourages congregations to build on their strengths through relationship-building in their communities and being disciples of Jesus who commit their lives to service.” And of Drake, Bishop Laurie noted, “Melissa has a passion for congregational vitality. Melissa is gifted in leading congregations through the process of discerning their strengths, seeing their communities through new eyes, and then formulating strategies for renewal and growth.”
Christenson said that he is“excited to be a part of the Congregational Excellence team as we connect, equip, and inspire local congregations to make God’s hope for the world real through faith, fruit, and fire.” He described the tasks before him. “In the work I do with consulting and coaching, I love the opportunity to walk with a church for a season, helping them discover a clearer picture of the current reality, discover a vision of God’s preferred future, and discern some concrete next steps.”
Drake feels “honored to be named as one of the new Associate Directors of Congregational Excellence.” She spoke about her calling. “It is my passion and my call to encourage, equip and challenge congregations to continue to live into the dreams that God has for their church and their communities. I am excited to see how God’s Hope will continue to be made real throughout the Iowa Annual Conference.”
Rev. Ryan Christenson and Rev. Melissa Drake begin their new roles as Associate Directors for Congregational Excellence on July 1, 2019.
The naming of the Associate Directors for Congregational Excellence is another step in maintaining the missional focus of the Iowa Annual Conference - making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, while, at the same time, responding to the current financial circumstances by reducing Conference Staff (from four Interim Associates to two Associate Directors for Congregational Excellence) and lowering administrative expenses.