From the Bishop

As we shape the new Indiana Conference in the coming months and years, I am hopeful that we can move into a theme of “Ready, Set, Grow!”

Much effort is going into getting this new conference “ready,” including:

  • Electing a Leadership Table and new set of officers and committees,
  • Forming the Ministry Clusters of congregations,
  • Encouraging our clergy to join Clergy Covenant Groups,
  • Hiring new staff,
  • Preparing a new Conference Center, and
  • A myriad of other small to large preparations.

We are streamlining, reducing budgets, cutting back and becoming as lean as possible. We are changing from 18 to 10 districts, reducing total conference and district staff by one-third, and trying to make use of technology to operate efficiently.

We are trying to be “ready” and all “set” to fulfill our mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” I am hopeful that all of this effort prepares us for a stronger future, a growing future, a time of being a more faithful church. I do not see these cut-backs as simple money-saving devices or these new structure changes as merely moving around the furniture. No, I see these efforts as a preparation to grow. Our theme needs to be “Ready, Set, Grow!”

I believe that God wants The United Methodist Church to grow, especially here in Indiana. What should that growth look like? The story in chapter 2 of Acts is our guide. After Pentecost when thousands heard the Good News and came to be baptized in the name of Jesus, we have a record of how that first “church” grew.

  1. It says they grew in spiritual maturity as they devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, to prayer and to the breaking of bread (probably an early form of communion).
  2. It says they grew in deeper fellowship and caring as they shared in common their materials goods and made sure no one went without.
  3. It says they grew in outreach and respect as they continued to engage in public worship and gained the respect of the whole community (rather than hiding away from the world).
  4. And finally, it says they grew in numbers as “the Lord added to their number daily those being saved.”

That four-fold model of growth is the kind of growth that our new Indiana Conference should model and exhibit. Not numerical growth for its own sake, but numerical growth as evidence of the other kinds of growth that are happening in our more than 1,200 congregations and our conference structures. I believe we are called to grow as evidence of being faithful and fruitful.

This time of preparation, of moving forward as a new Indiana Conference, of forming new structures and organizations is all for the purpose of growing our United Methodist witness here in Indiana and beyond. I envision our theme being, “Ready, Set, Grow!”

Please join me in praying that our new Indiana Conference will be a healthy, growing, alive, and vital witness to the power of Christ in our midst.

Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Churc
“Making a Difference in Indiana and around the world”