The Rev. Stephen Lewis: The Keys to Renewal

Are you interested in strong leadership for the church? Do you want the church to thrive and be relevant in the world?  If so, what are the keys to renewal and vitality?

According to a recent United Methodist Church study, the four key factors are: "small groups and programs; worship services that mix traditional and contemporary styles with an emphasis on relevant sermons; pastors who work hard on mentorship and cultivation of the laity; and an emphasis on effective lay leadership."

These four factors depend on the church giving more attention to the continuous work of cultivating quality leaders who attend to them. And because the average age of both clergy and parishioners are rising-- and because church is becoming less relevant to young people (according to the study), cultivating quality leaders should be a church mandate!

The vitality of all movements and organizations depends on the quality of leadership from generation to generation.

When 90 percent of Christian pastors serving congregations are over the age of 40 and the majority of that 90 percent is over the age of 50, what kind of "wake up call" do we hear about the need for successive generations of quality pastors?

Regardless of temporary clergy surpluses or deficits, the need to cultivate quality pastoral leaders is a perennial task. Living, strong communities of faith need capable, strong leaders.

And, if the church is NOT a place where good leaders can serve God's call and thrive--we have to change and renew the church.  Otherwise, we should stop going to church!

We need new young leaders, and older ones, to renew and lead the church into its future.  The sustainability of the church, communities and stewardship of the Gospel itself-the capacity to pass it on--all depend on our care for vocation.

Where can you go to have a national conversation and meet others who are interested in the church's future, leadership and keys to vitality? You can join us in Atlanta, October 7-9, 2010 for FTE's Calling Congregation Conference.

This year, our conference preachers include Barbara Brown Taylor and Greg Ellison. We'll introduce a new congregational approach for cultivating leadership and a new grant process for those interested in starting an internship program for college students.  You'll also have an opportunity to participate in one of ten practice modules, learn about new resources, meet new people and connect with a growing movement.

Join us in activating the keys to strengthening the church's vitality and mission in the world for generations to come.

To learn more about the Calling Congregations Conference or to register, click here.

[Taken with permission from The Fund for Theological Education's "On Call" Blog.]