|Discipleship agency responds to church's emerging needs
By Linda Green*
Oct. 24, 2006 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
Holistic thinking and customer sensitivity are the keywords for a new
direction and brand identity for the denomination's discipleship
The executive committee of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship
approved a new integrated strategic direction and brand identity Oct.
9-10 to enable the agency to serve "the church with continuity, based
upon our basic values and mission," said Indiana Bishop Michael J.
Coyner, president of the board.
"The new branding is an effort to demonstrate this integrated
thinking, so that every product, service and ministry of (the board)
will be labeled in a way that clearly shows this holistic thinking," he
The new direction is driven by the fact that the agency "wants to
serve the church, and we have reorganized our entire effort around being
customer sensitive -- helping local church, district and conference
leaders to fulfill our dream of making what we call 'world-changing
disciples,'" Coyner said.
The Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive at the agency, said the
"work is clearly focused through strategy and image. By building more
flexible and ongoing relationships, (the Board of Discipleship) will
connect with leaders in churches and conferences to provide needed
resourcing, training, consulting and networking to support new church
development, revitalization of local churches, and providing materials
for use in central conferences."
She added that the intersection of spiritual practice, leadership
formation and young people's ministries provides the core content for
addressing the needs of church leaders.
The integrated direction and brand identity result from months of
dialogue and discernment around what God is calling the agency to do,
the board said. The agency's leadership team also listened to the church
and the larger world in a variety of ways, through connectional
conversations, statistical research, readership interviews, focus groups
and the monitoring of trends in the world, in business and in the
The board "recognizes that by focusing its strategic directions, it
can respond more directly to the emerging needs of the church, its
people and the larger world," Greenwaldt said.
The strategies focus attention on the agency's mandate to equip
world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ, and the board is harnessing
its energies and those of partners and colleagues to address the
important issues facing the church and the world. While the United
Methodist Church in the United States and parts of Europe continues to
experience decline, churches in Africa and the Philippines are growing
but lack resources.
The agency has worked on its ability to respond to the church's
needs, Coyner said. "We want the agency to be flexible, quick-responding
and focused upon our mission in a way which is both effective and
The strategies "embrace support of leaders in new church development and in revitalization of churches," Greenwaldt said.
Initiatives to provide this support to leaders will come through the
"discipleship university," a major new initiative that will provide the
church with on-site and off-site learning opportunities for all areas of
discipleship, she said.
This story was adapted from a release by Jeanette Pinkston, director
of media relations for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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