Bishop, lay leader report on conference goals
By Lisa Diehl, Kansas area communications director
Rev. Butch Ritter likens the stages of ministry to driving a car at different points in life.
|Bishop Scott Jones, left, and Oliver Green, conference lay leader, talk about goals set for the Kansas East Conference. (photo by Britt Bradley)
Kansas Area Bishop Scott Jones and Oliver Green, Kansas East Conference lay leader, reported on the area-wide goals announced in 2009 during their State of the Conference address to the 2012 Kansas East Annual Conference June 6.
Some of the goals were met, others were not, but Jones said it’s important to set goals and measure progress toward them.
“Friends, as long as I’ve been bishop, I keep bringing up numbers to you,” Jones said. “I count people because people count.”
Between 2009 and 2012, the Kansas Area extended cabinet committed to 10 goals.
One, start 10 new churches area-wide. Kansas East started five new churches; Kansas West started three prior to the 2012 conference session.
“The goal is increasing the number of vital congregations,” Jones said. “One way of doing that is to start new ones. New churches are important, and we are becoming much more adept at identifying opportunities, at raising up trained church planters who have been assessed and raising the funds for support.”
Two, annual growth in worship attendance as individual annual conferences.
“We’ve not made it yet,” Jones said. “The decline in 2011 was less than in previous years. I hope that our continued emphasis on reaching the unchurched shows that we’re beginning to turn this around and that we may actually start growing again.”
Three, double the number of students actively involved in United Methodist campus ministries by 2011.
“We have exceeded this goal,” Jones announced. “We have reached 685 people. Instead of simply doubling, we had an increase of two-and-one-half times. “
Jones attributed some of the success to Bridges to the Future capital campaign funds that have allowed for the purchase and renovation of the facilities at six of the seven state colleges.
“Not only does [campus ministry] reach the unchurched on those campuses, it helps our United Methodist students grow in their faith and becomes a place where they discern a call of God on their lives for full-time service,” Jones said.
Four, have 75 percent of congregations report an increase in the number of professions of faith.
“That means if you have zero, we’d like to see you get one,” Jones said. “We did not make our goal. We gained only a little ground in 2011, moving up to 28 percent. Professions of faith are an important measure of vitality of local churches.”
Five, increase youth participation at local churches.
“In 2010, we grew the number of youth participating, but in 2011, we actually declined and lost ground,” Jones said.
The average age of United Methodists is 57, while the average age in America is 37.
Six, increase participation at United Methodist camps by 5 percent a year.
Jones said early in the quadrennium, camping numbers were increasing, but they declined in 2011. Through the Bridges to the Future campaign, a lot of improvements have been made in the camping facilities.
“We want to increase camping participation because we know that participating in camp changes people’s lives,” Jones said.
Seven, increase the participation in small groups by 5 percent a year.
Jones talked about the church plus two concept he’s promoted since becoming bishop. Every United Methodist should be engaged in worship and two small groups, one in which they are fed and another in which they are feeding others.
While participation has increased in the past four years, it has not yet reached the 5 percent growth rate per year.
“I know that small groups are important for me and my own faith journey, and help me through the week, so to speak,” Green said.
Eight, one trained disaster-response contact or coordinator in each local church.
“We’re hovering around 56 percent,” Jones said. “We can do better.”
Nine, improve apportionment payout by 2 percentage points a year.
“Friends, we’re at 84.6 percent for 2011,” Jones said. “That’s a huge improvement over 2010. Gary Beach, the treasurer, tells me that we’re already ahead this year from where we were last year.”
Jones said his personal goal remains 95 percent payout on apportionments.
Ten, have 10 percent of worship attendance participate in a mission trip or other hands-on mission project. The conference met this goal, Jones said.
“If you will simply take the church out of doors and touch people’s lives, amazing things will happen to your congregation,” Jones said. “It’s an evangelism tool. “