As the Iowa Conference continues to work through the coaching tips of Spiritual Leadership Inc. (SLI), participants in the program are getting out to the districts to begin grassroots organizing.
“We have been learning about our ministries and where mission and ministry need to get realigned,” said Rev. Lanette Plambeck, Broadway UMC in Council Bluffs. “We have been learning, leading and loving together.”
Plambeck is part of the Bishop’s Operational Team. The Bishop’s Operational Team consists of the Bishop, two assistants to the bishop, the conference treasurer, the communications director, the human resources director, two clergy and two lay leaders. It focuses on looking at the processes in the conference and strategically aligns what it’s doing with focusing on creating new faith communities and renewing congregations.
Plambeck took what she’s learned and formed a “child” team for communities of faith. The communities of faith child team met several times already and is looking at ways to create new faith communities and revitalize existing churches. The team that came together brings different view points with pastors and lay from across Iowa.
“A number of the folks were identified not only in the effectiveness of ministry, but there had to be fruit,” said Plambeck. “Fruitful people create fruitful teams.”
The members of the child group include Lindsay Drake, Ankeny First United Methodist, Pastor Nate Nims, Waterloo First United Methodist, Pastor John Louk, Cedar Rapids Salem United Methodist Church, and Associate Pastor Chris St. Clair, Council Bluffs Broadway United Methodist Church.
The child team members are plugged into their districts, speaking with field outreach ministers, district superintendents and clergy and lay people.
“We haven’t been in a bubble,” said Plambeck. “What we’re doing needs to be grassroots.”
Through their conversations with local churches, the team discovered they must work on several things in order to be a successful Iowa Conference, namely being the conference must work for the local communities of faith.
“What we need to do is to support our faith communities and our leaders,” said Plambeck. “The conference center and how we staff is for the work of our local communities of faith.”
What does that all entail, though? Plambeck said several things including: paying attention to what mission means, what it means to plant new churches, what it means to be welcoming of new arrivals in local churches and what it means to be committed as a conference.
Loving, learning, leading
The theme that consistently comes up when talking about SLI is “Loving, Learning, and Leading.” As the child team comes together, they apply the motto to their meetings and beyond.
“The process of loving, learning and leading has been great because it’s not just a process, but a way of being,” said St. Clair. “We’ve got a goal we’re trying to implement, which is our strategic priorities.”
They are taking the 3L motto back to their local churches and using it to think of new ideas and ways to achieve the strategic priorities, said Nim.
“I use the SLI motto for my model for church meetings,” he said. “We dream about what the conference will look like as we revitalize churches, think about new places for new people and what does this mean for our existing churches.”
Overall the SLI experience is helping churches be strong, which then leads to a stronger conference.
“SLI helps us to be the most healthy conference we can be,” said St. Clair.