When Bishop Dyck announced my appointment change from Minnesota Conference’s director of congregational development to its director of ministries, more than one person inferred that preaching and leading workshops in churches would not be a part of my new job; that somehow all my time would be consumed with running the machinery we know as the Minnesota Annual Conference.
Yes, I have some new responsibilities, but I consider my primary focus to be a resource to churches. I do this for several reasons: effective churches are how we accomplish our mission, I want to stay connected to churches, and I love it!
The annual conference exists to start and equip churches that are effective in reaching new people and cultivating spiritual vitality. That is how we accomplish our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. If we do not do this well, it does not matter much what else we do, because without strong, vital, sustainable local churches we will not have the resources or capacity to do anything else.
I make time for coaching clergy, preaching, and leading workshops because it is important for me to stay connected to what is happening in the mission field. I participate in a local church where I live, but my work in all the corners of Minnesota with its varieties of churches helps me better understand the dynamics of what is happening in our churches, and as I hear what is working, I can share stories with other churches.
My favorite reason is that I love doing it. I have met many wonderful people. I get to do something that is “fun” for me, as it taps into my gifts and passions, and I love being able to say to a congregation that I am their “apportionment dollars at work,” helping them see the value of being a part of a connectional system with people to support their mission and ministry.
There is not just one staff person working in congregational development. There will be three. Dan Johnson, who will begin his appointment as director of congregational development on March 1, Dennis Alexander, the current coordinator of ethnic and urban ministries, and I are resource people for you. We bring much experience and many gifts in helping congregations connect to their mission field, clarify their identity and purpose, develop a strategic plan, enhance their ministries of hospitality, worship, discipleship, generosity and outreach, and much more.
Certainly, we are only three people and we serve nearly 400 congregations. We will have some limitations on our time. But in whatever ways we can be, we are here for you. I did not say yes to this new position so I could go to more meetings and do even more paperwork. I said yes so I could make a difference in helping us as an annual conference be faithful and fruitful in our mission. I believe in the local church, and that when the local church is faithful to its calling, it is God’s vehicle for transforming lives and communities. To support that, I am determined to give my heart and best energy. That is why I am here, and will be here for you to the best of my ability.
Cindy Gregorson is director of ministries for the Minnesota Annual Conference.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church