Rev. Dan Pezet
is the new AWF Director of Congregational Vitality and has served in this appointment since July 1, 2014. In his brief ten months, he has canvassed the bounds of the conference to identity many churches with growth potential. We learn more in a recent Q & A with the Office of Communications (OOC).
: You’ve been in this appointment just under a year. How has this appointment been different than any of your previous appointments?
: Working on the conference staff has been a completely new experience. It has given me the opportunity to travel around the conference and meet lots of great people along the way. We have a wonderful conference filled with wonderful people. It is a joy and a privilege to work with our congregations.
I also have the opportunity to work with congregational developers from all over our denomination. Together, we are exploring the best practices for disciple making, and developing resources that our local congregations can use to make an impact in their communities. I am amazed at the innovative ideas that are beginning to take shape throughout the denomination.
: How are you able to use your God-given talents in this new ministry?
: I am a creative problem solver. I enjoy developing ideas and strategies for moving forward. I get do this every day in my new position. I love it.
I am also a people-person. This helps in my position, because I am not an expert in all things related to “doing church.” Part of my job is recognizing the persons in our conference who have demonstrated success in certain areas, and connecting them with churches who could benefit from their specific knowledge and guidance.
My previous work experience also plays a major role in my new appointment. I am using skills that I have learned during my undergraduate years with the YMCA in program management, and with Disney in hospitality and operational systems. My experience serving both as a pastor and in lay positions for churches of various sizes is also invaluable in my new role.
: What is your main goal in this appointment?
: To put it simply, my main goal is to do all the good I can. I want to help as many churches as I can to reach as many people for Jesus Christ as possible. I believe in the United Methodist Church. I believe we have the answer that our world is seeking. I want to help our churches proclaim our message in the most effective ways possible.
: You also launched the Antioch Project and hosted a banquet to welcome those churches that were participating in this initiative. What were the qualifications to be invited into this partnership and what does it look like?
: The Antioch Project is a conference initiative that seeks to partner with congregations who are ready to discern the next direction God is leading their congregation. The church completes a research study about their congregation, and then we send a team to the church to help them discern where God is leading them in the future. We develop a set of recommendations for the church, and if the church approves the recommendations, we assign coaches to the church to help them fulfill the recommendations.
Churches must be nominated to the Antioch Project by their District Superintendents. They must have good clergy leadership (with no expectation of moving for two years), good lay leadership, and be situated in a viable ministry context. If you think your church would benefit from the Antioch Project, please contact your District Superintendent. We have just launched a large group of Antioch Project churches, so it will be late next year before we will be able to invite a new group.
: Recently the conference announced that it would utilize a program called MissionInsite. How do you use this tool and how can local churches use it?
: Mission Insite is a website that allows churches to run demographic reports for their communities. The amount of information that is available to help us understand our communities is incredible, and our conference has a contract with Mission Insite that allows all of our churches to access it free of charge. It is my hope that churches will use this tool to help understand the needs of the community, and then put this information into action.
Churches can register for MissionInsite by following the instructions at www.awfumc.org/missioninsiteregistration
I am also happy to come to any church to explore MissionInsite for their community and offer training to individuals or groups.
What is an example of something churches can do to grow?
: I believe that one key to church growth and vitality today is creating authentic relationships with the community. We need to meet as many people as we can. In order to do this, we must practice ministry beyond the walls of our sanctuaries. Some ideas for creating community relationships might include: Going to nearby schools and meeting with principals to see what needs the church might be able to fulfill. Leading a community clean-up day at a local park. Inviting community/school organizations to help with Christmastime mission projects.
: Are you available to individual local churches for one-on-one consultations?
: Absolutely. I am happy to come to any church and speak to any group about congregational vitality. I am also available for pastors or church members who just want to call and talk about ideas for their church. I want to help in any way that I possibly can.
: What things in your recent tenure excite you most about the AWF Conference?
: The most exciting part of the job so far is when I present possibilities to a church’s leadership committee. When we get together and begin to dream about what God’s vision is for the church, it is truly energizing. I wish all church council meetings could be filled with that much energy and hope!
What is the best way for congregations to know about the progress you are making?
: You can keep track of what is happening in Congregational Vitality on our website, Facebook, and Twitter. I post updates to all three places to let people know what I am up to almost every day. Here are the links for each:
Our Conference website