The Rev. Adam Hamilton, founding and current lead pastor of the Church of the Resurrection (UMC) in suburban Kansas City, presented three sessions on “Effective Church Leadership,” “Ideas for Preaching and Worship” and “Strategies for Reaching the Unchurched” during the opening day of the Indiana Annual Conference. The Church of the Resurrection is the largest UM congregation in the United States with 15,500 members.

Effective leadership

Hamilton kicked off his June 25 sessions by offering a revival for spiritual renewal for laity and clergy, saying that on average there are about 10 percent of both who are feeling burned out, which then effects their ministries and leadership.

“I believe we have a future with hope, but not with out change.” Now is the time to address various areas of the church that have not worked well and work on ways to change for the future.

Five ways for effective church leadership include:

  • Setting the tone of the organization,
  • Clarifying and championing the mission and vision,
  • Holding the organization accountable to its mission,
  • Owning ultimate responsibility for the organization’s mission,
  • Preparing the organization for the future by leading for change.

“The mission drives everything,” said Hamilton. “The problem is we don’t like change. We like the status quo. This is a problem for every generation.”

Hamilton also explained the differences between managers (plan and budget, develop policies, control and problem solve and create predictability and order) and leaders (establish direction and cost vision, align people and resources to accomplish a vision, motivate, inspire and produce change and chaos).

“Leaders evaluate, celebrate victories and honestly address short-comings,” he said. “Leaders don’t give up.”

Effective church leadership also includes five important principles:

  • It’s all about people.
  • Healthy organizations have a clear mission, vision and plan.
  • Change, innovate, improve or die.
  • Understand the discipleship pyramid.
  • Discernment by nausea.
  • “Leaders help take the path less traveled.”

Preaching and worship

“If you preach excellent sermons, people grow in their faith,” said Hamilton. “The entire church benefits.”

Hamilton encouraged the conference to understand that worship is more than just a sermon and is more involved and important than putting together the order on Friday or Saturday.

Throughout the session, he provided tips on music introductions, explaining to congregations what they are singing and the different facets of faith that people attending a church for the first time might not understand. “If you help them in leading worship, the grace of God flows through the sacraments.”

He added, “Your sermon is the most powerful tool in your tool belt to help your congregation.” For example, at Christmas and Easter, announce various programs to those visiting.

One of the strategic goals at the Church of the Resurrection is to reach out to young adults, not just in growing their faith or becoming members, but also to involve them more in the decision making and life of the church.

Some of those sermons include:

  • Fishing expeditions: exploring various questions of non-church active people.
  • Discipleship: Lent.
  • Pastoral care sermons: addressing topics of marriages, suicides, care giving.
  • Equipping and sending: preparing members to do missions, social justice and more.
  • Strengthening the church: stewardship and visioning.
  • The sermons should touch on five components:
  • Teaching something new.
  • Inspiring others.
  • Providing practical advice for life.
  • Calling people to action.
  • Including creativity, be interesting and intriguing.

“Preaching has power…the world is changed.”

Strategies for reaching the non-religious

Each church in developing various strategies for evangelism and outreach needs to wrestle and answer the following questions:

  • Why do people need Jesus Christ? “The fundamental needs in our human heart are spiritual needs. We yearn for unconditional love, need hope and more. All of these things are orchestrated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
  • Why do people need the church? “The church belongs to Jesus Christ.”
  • Why do people need your church? People need the help of our local congregations in finding the love of Jesus. “Many of our churches are struggling with self-esteem with years of decline.” Hamilton encouraged the conference laity to take pride in their pastors and pastors to find the special aspects of their congregations.

At Church of Resurrection, they emphasize mission work and projects for outreach to young adults. “Non-religious young adults are really interested in changing the world. That’s what Rethink Church is all about...

“The world needs vibrant, vital United Methodists. The world needs you.”