Throughout all of church history, there has never been a time when a healthy, faithful, effective congregation has been more needed and necessary. It is clear that the leadership of the AWFUMC believe to the core of their being that they are at the right time to be a faithful and an effective community of faith to have a promising future. The Conference leaders have determined in this moment of time to encourage and inspire this core belief and equip the congregation to practice the appropriate approaches and strategies that will fulfill their potential and meet the world’s needs.
AWFUMC has begun to equip these faithful congregations to imagine what God desires. Congregations throughout the Conference boundaries are living into the Next Steps Ministry Now (NSMN), a tool and process to equip congregational leaders to imagine.
Congregations in the Montgomery-Opelika, Marianna-Panama City, Baypines, and Dothan Districts are living into the NSMN process of four basic questions upon which to reflect and address. These questions include:
- Who are we? (The question of identity)
- Why do we exist? (The question of purpose)
- Who are our neighbors? (The question of location)
- What is God’s will for us? (The question of the next right step).
These four basic questions are answered through gathering information, sharing stories, reviewing geographic and demographic data, and networking within the community. They serve as input for reflection and discernment then planning. This is likened to a pilgrimage for these leaders and for the at-large congregation. The pilgrimage is a leadership process and gets people to a place they would not get to on their own.
We Methodists have the structure, connection, message, and people to make disciples and transform communities. Congregational leaders are leaping into imagination
action, considering the emerging community context, their legacy, and their missional task so that their discernment and planning are fruitful and they achieve the harvest they seek. Their legacy and story in their community leverages their unique distinctiveness right where they are located.