Numerous calls and letters received at Bishop Mike Coyner’s office are invitations for Bishop Mike to preach or attend a special event. Unfortunately, many invitations cannot be honored due to scheduling conflicts that could have been avoided. It isn’t because churches are too small or because the event isn’t important. Bishop Mike visits all sizes of churches and enjoys opportunities to be among Indiana’s congreations, but well, he’s a busy guy.

So, what can congregations do to increase their chances Bishop Mike will be able to attend a congregational event?

Plan far ahead

The single most important thing one can do is plan as far in advance as possible. People are often surprised to learn Bishop Mike can’t preach at the 100th anniversary of their church, which is in three months. Sure it’s an important event, but the fact is Bishop Mike’s schedule is often filled a year in advance. Surely congregations know when their centennials will be held.

Another important consideration is giving Bishop Mike more than one date from which to choose. If one asks for September 5 and that date is unavailable, one may just receive a “sorry, I’m not available.” But if one can offer three or more dates, chances are much better of getting a positive reply.

Often, pastors or lay leaders will call and say, “Is Bishop Mike available on August 10 next year? We want to invite him to preach, but not if he isn’t available.” Well, truth is, even if there is nothing on his calendar it doesn’t mean he’s available; he does take a rare day off or reserve it for a family event. If the date is open on the calendar and Bishop Mike says he can’t do it, the pastor may wonder why his or her event isn’t worthy. I will, however, tell the caller, if the date is definitely scheduled.

One reason requests are turned down is because the bishop has already preached at ones church or given the invocation at ones Lenten luncheon the previous year. With more than 1,200 congregations in the Indiana Conference there just isn’t time to visit all of them even once. That would require him to visit 150 churches a year.

Ask in writing

Finally, requests need always be in writing. Decisions about preaching are seldom made immediately but rather periodically as more requests come in. No, it isn’t necessarily first-come, first-served. Having your request in writing provides a much better chance of getting a positive response than asking Bishop Mike personally, or even sending him e-mail. Letters just have less chance of getting lost or forgotten than e-mail.

Bishop Mike really enjoys visiting Indiana’s congregations. He likes to meet people. Good advance planning can help a congregation get him to your church to worship with and visit your people.

If your congregation would like to have Bishop Coyner preach, address your letter to Bishop Mike Coyner, Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church, 301 Pennsylvania Parkway, Suite 300, Indianapolis, IN 46280.

Having your request in writing provides a much better chance of getting a positive response.