The Annual Conference Session is rapidly approaching and my excitement builds daily.
I regularly call for congregations to make significant changes to meet the needs of people more effectively. A few people dared to suggest that I recommend changes to the Annual Conference Sessions. How foolish can some people be! We conducted Annual Conference in the basic format for many years. Why should we change? Slowly, I realized they might be right. I doubted it, but was at least willing to make some minor changes.
The Conference Ministry Team and Cabinet considered a wide variety of options. They examined minor changes and dramatic transformation of the Annual Conference Sessions. We proceeded with some significant changes for this year. Annual Conference will include a teaching-learning event, encompassing about six or seven hours of the Conference agenda. Dr. Gil Rendle will guide and challenge Conference participants to lead changes in the Church and the reasons behind making those changes.
Dr. Gil Rendle brings unique wisdom and understanding about transforming local churches, annual conferences and general agencies. He is a United Methodist clergyperson who earned a PhD in system theory. He served for many years as a senior consultant with Alban Institute, one of the strongest church consulting institutes in the United States. About three years ago, he stepped down from his position at the Alban Institute and became the senior consultant for the Texas Methodist Foundation’s Center for Clergy Excellence. Since that time, he has become one of the most prominent leaders in helping Cabinets, Annual Conferences and General Agencies to make the necessary changes to become what God wants and expects us to be. His knowledge, wisdom, understanding of local churches, and the systems we use enables him to address issues as if he had just spent two months walking in our shoes. He is the author of several books and a couple of those will be available for sale at Conference.
We invite local church leaders who desire their congregations to grow and become vital, and cannot be present for the entire Conference Session, to arrive after lunch on Wednesday and remain until lunchtime on Thursday. If they cannot be physically present, we will have DVDs of Dr. Rendle's presentations available to order. We will post updates on the website and via Twitter. For now, I strongly urge every leader to come to the Conference Session at Glorieta to participate in Dr. Rendle’s presentations. Many individuals paid more than $300 for this opportunity when he was at Alban Institute. You can participate by showing up. You can call 1-800-797-4222 for help with housing and meals at Glorieta if you make those reservations now.
This is not the only changes you will note in the Annual Conference Session this year. It is just the most obvious one. It is also not the only changes coming. Annual Conference will become an inspiring, learning, transforming experience. Come expecting things to change. Come expecting to be personally changed.
Grace & Peace,