I have now completed 6 of the 10 Tip-Off events for our Ministry Clusters. To say the least, these events have been well-attended, filled with enthusiastic response, and a delightful mix of chaos and organization.
The response has been gratifying and almost more than our venues could handle. Yesterday, for example, the crowd at South Bend Grace filled that sanctuary, balcony, and overflow room – with about a dozen people having to stand for the hour-long presentation. When I asked one of the pastor on staff how many people their sanctuary can hold, she responded by saying, “Not this many.” People were patient, and the movement into the hall where they formed into Ministry Clusters went smoothly. Many churches had already talked and decided how to cluster, others had to shop around and find their best groupings. It was powerful to see those groups gathering and praying for one another.
On to Monticello, where we had another large crowd. We filled that sanctuary and balcony, with about 70 people watching on the church’s new large-screen TV in an overflow area. Once again, there was enthusiasm, a bit of chaos, and yet good cooperation as people formed the Ministry Clusters of their choosing.
It has been this way at all 6 Tip-Offs to date, and I expect the next 4 events will be the same. Something is going on. Without any firm survey data, let me offer this observation of what is happening:
- United Methodist people really do like to be connected with one another
- We are re-connecting people at the local church level
- Pastors and laity are responding to our focus upon making disciples of Jesus by resourcing local congregations
- All of us are hopeful that this new Indiana Conference structure can result in more fruitful ministry
- People voted for this Imagine Indiana Plan, so they are willing to give it a good try
There may be other things going on. All I know is that I am greatly encouraged by the response, the energy, and the prayerful support for our efforts. I am blessed to be your bishop during these chaordic and exciting times.
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church