Our Indiana Conference leadership team is in the midst of transitions. This year we have three District Superintendents who are rotating off the Cabinet, David V.W. Owen is retiring from his role as Executive Assistant to the Bishop, and Mark Gough retired from serving as Director of Church Development. This is a lot of transition in one year!

We are working our way through these transitions: I have already appointed Cindy Reynolds to serve as the new Executive Assistant to the Bishop, and I also have appointed three new District Superintendents (Larry Whitehead, Chris Newman-Jacobs, and Bev Perry). Our Human Resources Committee has formed a search committee in cooperation with the two primary groups that work with our Director of Church Development, and that search committee has begun working with a consultant to go through a process to select a new director.

In the midst of these changes, we also have launched a new plan to improve the leadership of our conference teams by engaging in coaching with Spiritual Leadership, Inc. (SLI) to form three “operational teams.” Those teams are the Cabinet, the staff Directors, and a Bishop’s team to help me be a better leader. The focus of this process is to help us grow as teams of leaders by loving one another and the Lord, learning together and leading together.

This SLI model of loving, learning and leading is of course very Biblical. As we move through the season of Lent and Easter, we reflect upon the ministry of Jesus – a ministry which included spending three years to call, lead, teach and develop a team of disciples (students) to empower them to become apostles (those sent) to lead and serve.

Forming leaders takes time, care, support, nurture and patience. Sometimes we too quickly buy into the notion of our culture that leaders are “born” and suddenly appear like a superhero who shows up at the right time. Actually leaders are taught, loved, developed and shaped over time. Yes there are inborn strengths and talents that potential leaders must learn to recognize and use, but leadership development is not a magic formula. It takes time, it takes a team of mutual leaders, ad it takes spiritual formation and nurture by the whole community of faith.

So if you hear about the Cabinet Team, the Directors Team and the Bishops Team – you can know that we are at least trying to take seriously the process of growing leaders for the Indiana Conference. At the same time, we are also hosting a Bishop’s Leadership Academy for Clergy Excellence which includes 23 younger clergy meeting with five “veteran” clergy, and we are considering a similar model for developing laity leaders in the Indiana Conference.

Leadership development is the key. A group, organization, church and team cannot grow beyond the spiritual capacity of its leaders. Jesus knew that, and he spent three years preparing a team of leaders to continue his ministry. We can do no less.

From Bishop Michael J. Coyner,
Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church
Making a difference in Indiana
and around the world.

Bishop Coyner


“A group, organization, church and team cannot grow beyond the spiritual capacity of its leaders.”