Missouri United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase, author of the best-seller book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, will be the featured speaker at the 2010 Indiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church to be held at Emens Auditorium on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. June 10-13.

Publisher Abingdon Press has sold more than 110,000 copies of the Five Practices book, and demand is high for the companion leader manual and media kit and church-wide devotional book, “Cultivating Fruitfulness.”

Schnase will be teaching to the 2,400 lay and clergy members of the conference during the opening sessions of the four-day meeting. His presentations will be in Emens Auditorium Thursday, June 10 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and again on Friday, June 11 from 9:15 to 10:30 a.m. Muncie area pastors are invited to hear him speak.

Schnase was invited by Indiana United Methodist Bishop Mike Coyner, who will call the second state-wide Indiana Annual Conference session to order on Thursday at 9 a.m.

About his book, Schnase said, “I believe it is important to find common language where pastors and laypersons can easily understand each other. We need a word that captures the essence of the Great Commission and the teachings of early Christians. To me, ‘fruitful’ is that word. ‘Fruitful’ is a word that shows action. It stretches us. And as a church, we are called to act and to stretch ourselves.”

The practices at the core of Schnase’s work are:

  • Radical hospitality;
  • Passionate worship;
  • Intentional faith development;
  • Risk-taking mission and service; and
  • Extravagant generosity.

Each of the practices, Schnase said, is designed to stretch everyone’s imagination and focus them on ministry in Jesus’ mode.

Five Practices has been incorporated in the work of a number of U.S. United Methodist conferences, including Texas, North Texas, Memphis, Florida and New Mexico.

Five Practices is being used in Australia, England, Russia, Korea, and even Indonesia, Schnase said. German United Methodists planned a significant implementation of the material when a German translation was released this past year.

Beyond Schnase

Beyond the two major presentation of Bishop Schnase, the four-day conference also will include 14 candidates for ordained ministry who will be commissioned and 22 provisional candidates for ministry who will be ordained, during a 10 a.m. Sunday worship service on June 13. The conference will bid farewell to 58 retiring pastors from across the state with a special recognition of retirees Thursday at 11 a.m.

Indiana United Methodist Bishop Mike Coyner will call the session to order on Thursday at 9 a.m. In other business, conference members will hear reports about the mission and ministry of the church, have the opportunity to approve a projected $14.1 million budget and participate in the uniting of three former United Methodist foundations into one Indiana Annual Conference Foundation and bring health and layette kits by the thousands for the church’s outreach to United Methodists of Sierra Leone and Liberia

Outreach to Muncie

For the second year in a row, more than 650 conference members plan to reach out to the Muncie community on Saturday, June 12, through hands-on volunteer mission projects across the Muncie community. The Saturday Day of Outreach on June 12 is the largest single off-campus event in which members and guests can be involved. It begins at noon in Emens Auditorium. Both members and guests have already chosen among local mission projects, construction projects, nursing home visits, seated projects such as assembling disaster recovery kits and prayer shawls and prayer walking neighborhoods as well as the mall. The day will end with a Day of Outreach Celebration in Emens Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

The day also will include food collection from two area Marsh stores and the Downtown Farm Stand at 125 East Main Street in Muncie.

The culminating event of Annual Conference for members and guests will be the Ordination and Commissioning Service to be held Sunday, June 13 at 10 a.m. in Emens Auditorium. Last year’s service filled most of the auditorium’s 3,400 seats. This service, like all plenary events, will be Webcast live through the Indiana Conference Web site at www.inumc.org. An order of worship is available on the conference Web site as a PDF document. More than 20 churches participated through the Webcast last year.

For more information, visit www.inumc.org.

UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.

Bishop Robert Schnase discusses his book, The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. He will share his five practices during three sessions of the 2010 Indiana Annual Conference in Muncie, June 10-13.