Emphasizing the importance of the connectional nature of The United Methodist Church during his June 7 address to the conference, South Indiana Conference lay leader Ike Williams of Carmel, compared our connectionalism to a basketball.

Using his experience as an engineer, he said the basketball is a hollow sphere.

He said the most basic characteristic is its roundness. This roundness is the strength for the sphere. It can take internal and external pressure yet remains round. This doesn't happen to most hollow structures.

Continuing to share characteristics, he said, "Everything is connected to each other without interruption. No single part is strong on its own. The strength comes from all parts working together."

He said, the church (clergy, members, youth and more) is like the basketball. It's all the parts of the local church working together. The strength comes from all, said Williams, also likening the general church and annual conferences to the basketball as well.

Williams said connectionalism is spoken about in I Corinthians 12:4-24 where the Apostle Paul talks about the gifts of services and activities of the early Christian community.

The Apostle Paul is telling us we all bring strength to our local church. Not one of us can do all the work of Christ by ourselves. We are all working together and that gives us strength, he said.

Williams also shared several observations on his recent participation in General Conference that showed connectionalism in ministries and languages used.

He encouraged the laity to read the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, as well as Three Simple Rules. Using what you find in these books, find ways your local congregations can bring people to Christ, he said.

"Change is not easy. Change is risky. Change is scary. Change is going into the unknown," he concluded.