The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2004 states that the “mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ,” and that “local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” The North Carolina Conference has taken seriously this charge and over the past decade has provided leadership to the general church as we sustained growth in professions of faith, new membership, and worship attendance.
It is the function of the Commission on Congregational Development, and the associated Office of Congregational Development, to aid congregations and their lay and clergy leaders in creating strong and effective churches. Annually, new churches, and older churches of all sizes, are assisted with vision and mission planning, staff development, lay and clergy leadership development, building committee organization, and evangelism and outreach instruction. Each year about one hundred churches are assisted, most of them small membership in size, and this was again the case in 2007.
In 2007, the Office of Congregational Development co-sponsored with Windsor United Methodist Church located in the Wilmington District an event for small membership churches called Fan the Flame. This event will be supported again in 2008. The Office of Congregational Development continues to provide demographic research for local churches, districts and conference agencies. Data for these studies are supplied by MissionInsite, Inc. and the Office of Research for the General Board of Global Ministries at no cost to conference users.
In forty years, sixty-five attempts have been made to plant new churches within the bounds of the North Carolina Conference. These churches have been started in city settings, growing suburban communities, and rural communities. Membership in these new churches includes persons who are affluent, middle class, and poor, Anglo, Hispanic-Latino, African-American, Korean, Native American, and African. More than 72% of these attempts have been successful. In 2008, several more new churches will be planted following appointments to be announced by Bishop Gwinn at the conclusion of annual conference.
The Ten Dollar Club is administered by the Office of Congregational Development. The Club’s loyal members continue to provide funding to underwrite grants to new churches for land purchase and first building construction.
Allen Bingham, Chairperson
Stephen C. Compton, Executive Director, Office of Congregational Development