“For just as each of us has one body with many and these members do not all have the same function so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We all have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”
The Office of Discipleship and Leadership Formation, a recently restructured department of the Church of the Brethren, combines the staff and resources of Discipleship Ministries (including Intercultural Ministries, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and Older Adult Ministries) with the Office of Ministry. This new team will continue to foster support for the calling and equipping of pastors and youth and young adults to become fearless disciples and leaders for and within our congregations. The change adds energy to planting new churches and renewing established ones.
Bringing these two areas together reinforces the denomination’s resolve to “develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.” It provides the intentionality we have been seeking to aid us in “passionately living and sharing the radical transformation” of Jesus Christ through church planting, renewal and revitalization, and a shared understanding of working together to live out the great commission.
The Ministry Office’s “Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church” program provides a way for the church to walk with, listen to, and advocate for part-time, multi-vocational, and not-paid-to-scale pastors, empowering them to live well by enriching their journey through relationships and thoughtful knowledge sharing. Circuit riders are assigned to pastors who participate in this program to “ride” alongside them as they work to build relationships, share their wisdom, and encourage pastors to take advantage of book studies, web video series, and other resources to strengthen their ministry. Additional pastoral resources are available online (found at www.brethren.org/ministryoffice) concerning the Ministry Assistance Fund, chaplaincy resources, and resources from the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee and Ministers’ Association.
Staff will continue to focus on strengthening long-standing events and resources coming from Discipleship Ministries such as:
National Young Adult Conference was held in May at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. with young adults coming together to fellowship, worship, study the Bible, participate in a service project, and have conversation around the scripture text of Jeremiah 18:1-6 and the conference theme “I’m not done with you.”
Christian Citizenship Seminar was held April 22-27 brought together youth from across the country to study the scripture text 1 Kings 17:7-16 centering on the theme “Hot and hungry” and wrestling with how we live out the calling from God to care for our neighbors and all of God’s creation.
The New and Renew Conference held this past May at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., focused on the theme “Disciples – Called, Equipped, and Into the Neighborhood.” The three-day hybrid event had more than 20 sessions developed to broaden the understanding of church planting and congregational renewal. This is a vibrant gathering rooted in worship and prayer while providing practical training, nurturing conversation, and stimulating idea-sharing.
National Youth Conference met in the summer of 2022 with 901 students, advisors, volunteers and staff gathered on the campus of Colorado State University to root themselves in the theme “Foundational.”
National Junior High Conference was held in June on the campus of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., with junior high youth, advisors, volunteers and staff gathering to hear dynamic speakers and attend workshops centered on the theme “What does God want from Me?”
All of these events provide opportunities for growth, worship, fellowship, and resource sharing to provide our youth and young adults a foundation for them to not only stand on but grow from, and a safe space to learn from the speakers and each other as they share their thoughts with one another in rich conversation.
National Older Adult Conference will be held September 4-8 at Lake Junaluska, N.C. and center on the theme “God is doing a new things” based on Isaiah 43:19. This event provides a venue for our more seasoned members from across the denomination to foster relationships, tour the area around Lake Junaluska, praise God together through worship, singing, and dynamic speakers, and, of course, spending time in fellowship.
Discipleship and Leadership Formation, equipped with the core understanding of being “Jesus in the neighborhood” from the denomination’s newly adapted vision statement, is a dynamic group of leaders that provides coaching, collaboration, and consultation upon request to assist a congregation that desires to reach into and connect with their local communities. A collection of webcasts and workshops with a variety of online learning opportunities is a part of a denominational resource toolkit. Find “Tools for Community Engagement” at www.brethren.org/neighborhoodtools.
Thank you for sharing your unique gifts with the body of Christ. Contributions to Core Ministries support the work of Discipleship and Leadership Formation. Learn more about this ministry of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/discipleshipmin or support it today at www.brethren.org/givediscipleship.
(Read this issue of eBrethren.)