Connectional Ministries: Helping Leaders 'Find Their Voice'


PEORIA – A new report on connectional ministries was added to this year’s agenda. Often times working behind the scenes, the conference’s Equipping and Connecting Team is focused on local church revitalization through leadership development and providing top-notch programming.

“Our mission is to resource and equip the local church in making disciples of Jesus Christ, who transforms individuals, communities and the world,” said IGRC Director of Connectional Ministries Kent Lolling. “Since its emergence six years ago, our two priorities are focused on inspiring, encouraging, enlightening, coaching and motivating those gifted by God to be about God’s mighty work of salvation, transformation and kingdom building.”
Utilizing video clips from the highly acclaimed film, The King’s Speech, based upon the story of King George VI and the Royal Monarch’s quest to find his voice, Lolling said that much of the programming in leadership development is to “help leaders find their voice, have faith in their voice and be bold enough to preach and live the gospel in all places.”

Pastoral and Congregational leadership

  • Congregational Development Leadership Institute – seeks to retool pastors for emerging ministry needs that were not taught when pastors attended seminary. “This was so successful, attendees left wanting more,” Lolling said.
  • Fruitful Congregations Process – already attended by 56 United Methodists and one Presbyterian, pastors and a lay delegation work together to develop a renewal plan with benchmarks and accountability.
  • Small Church Revitalization Process – a renewal program aimed at smaller congregations.
  • New Streams -- development of a spiritual formation process in each local congregation
Lolling also pointed to leadership development that is being targeted at youth and young adults:
  • Marked Leadership Camp 
  • Summer internships
  • High school-aged youth taking lay speaking courses
  • Latino youth camp
  • Youth and young adult trip to Washington, D.C.
  • Day camp experiences in local churches
“Other leadership develop targets specific skill sets through events such as the E3 evangelism events with Doug Anderson where leadership is servant, relational and congregational,” Lolling said. “And what leadership development would be complete with hands-on experiences, such as those offered by mission opportunities to Honduras, Liberia and now, through the new Disciple Bible Outreach to our state’s prison system.”
Lolling also pointed to events that deepen leadership development – Deeper Still events focused on acts of piety and acts of mercy; and the Five-Day Spiritual Academy.
“Just as Lionel knew he had to go deeper, so do we,” Lolling said. “Lionel could coach, encourage, direct and even challenge Bertie (King George VI), but Bertie had to engage. He must decide embrace his new role as leader and desire to move forward into the unknown in order for all his coaching to succeed.”

Lolling said the greatest successes have come from “churches that have turned themselves around by implementing what they learn in Fruitful Congregations or Small Church revitalization process or New Streams and have stuck to it, rather than running from seminar to seminar looking for that magic bullet.”