The Indiana Conference is a part of The United Methodist Church (www.umc.org) with more than 11 million members in 119 annual and central Conferences worldwide (8.3 million members in 63 annual conferences in the U.S.). The United Methodist Church and its predecessor denominations trace their history in Indiana back to 1801 when Methodist circuit-riding preachers entered the Indiana Territory crossing the Ohio River in the southern part of the state. (For history of the church in Indiana, visit www.depauw.edu/libraries/about/librarylocations/archives/methodism/.)
Bishop Michael J. Coyner is our current episcopal leader of the Indiana Area. The Indiana Conference is part of the North Central Jurisdiction, which encompasses Annual Conferences in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
The Indiana Conference is comprised of more than 1,120 congregations ranging in size from 20 to 8,000 members in 10 districts across the state of Indiana. There are about 1,000 pastoral appointments to those churches, ministering to more than 200,000 adult members and 40,000 children and youth.
The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church will make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
We will be a connection of increasingly vibrant congregations working together to fulfill our mission.
We will discover, develop and deploy effective leaders for vibrant congregations.
We believe God is leading us as individuals, as congregations and as a Conference to move from saving our institution to participating in the reign of God. We are moving:
Effective Leadership > Vibrant Congregations > Faithful Disciples > Transforming the World
For a copy of the Indiana Conference Statement of Mission, Vision, Core Process and Values, click here.
For an introduction to The United Methodist Church, visit www.unitedmethodistchurch.com.
For information and news about The United Methodist Church, visit www.umc.org.
These are the practices outlined by Bishop Robert Schnase of Missouri in this book the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations published by Abingdon Press in 2007. Those practices are:
These become part of the core values that drive and inspire the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” the goal of The United Methodist Church at all levels.
In Schnase’s own words, here are the five practices which the Indiana Conference will use as it ministers to the needs of all people with whom the church touches making a difference here in Indiana and around the world.
Christian hospitality refers to the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ.
It describes a genuine love for others who are not yet a part of the faith community; an outward focus, a reaching out to those not yet known, a love that motivates church members to openness and adaptability, willingness to change behaviors in order to accommodate the needs and receive the talents of newcomers. Beyond intention, hospitality practices the gracious love of Christ, respects the dignity of others, and expresses God’s invitation to others, not our own. (p. 11-12)
Radical means “drastically different from the ordinary practice, outside the normal,” and so it provokes practices that exceed expectations, that go the second mile, that take welcoming the stranger to the max. It means people offering the absolute utmost of themselves, their creativity, their abilities, and their energy to offer the gracious invitation and reception of Christ to others. (p. 21)
Worship describes those times we gather deliberately seeking an encounter with God in Christ. We cultivate our relationship with God and with one another as the people of God. God uses worship to transform lives, heal wounded souls, renew hope, shape decisions, provoke change, inspire compassion, and bind people to one another. Through worship, God actively seeks a relationship with us, pardons sins, restores relationships, and changes lives. (p. 33-34)
Passionate describes an intense desire, an ardent spirit, strong feelings, and the sense of heightened importance. Passionate speaks of a connection that goes beyond intellectual consent. It connotes eagerness, anticipation, expectancy, deep commitment, and belief. (p. 37)
Passionate Worship means worship that connects people to God, worship that people enter into with expectancy, and with the anticipation that God desires to speak to them and connect to them. Whether traditional, blended, or contemporary, Passionate Worship is authentic, connecting, and sustaining.
Intentional Faith Development refers to the purposeful learning in community that helps the followers of Jesus mature in faith, such a Bible studies, Sunday school classes, short-term topical studies, and support groups that apply the faith to particular life challenges.
Learning in community replicates the way Jesus deliberately taught his disciples. People cannot learn grace, forgiveness, patience, kindness, gentleness, or joy, simply by reading about it in a book. These are aspects of spiritual formation that one learns in community, through intentional engagement. The sanctifying presence of God’s spirit works through these practices to help us grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God. (p. 62)
Risk-Taking Mission and Service includes the projects, the efforts, and the work people do to make a positive difference in the lives of others for the purposes of Christ, whether or not they will ever be part of the community of faith. Some churches have after-school programs for at-risk children, some send work teams across the state or across the world, some offer regular ministries to the incarcerated.
Risk-Taking refers to the service we offer that stretches us out of our comfort zone and has us engaging people and offering ourselves to ministries that we would never have done if not for our desire to follow Christ. Risk-taking steps into great uncertainty, a higher possibility of discomfort, resistance, or sacrifice. It pushes us beyond the circle of relationships that routinely define our church commitments. It changes the lives of the people who are served as well as the lives of those who serve. (p. 83, 78)
Extravagant Generosity describes practices of sharing and giving that exceed all expectations and extend to unexpected measures. It describes lavish sharing, sacrifice, and giving in service to God and neighbor. Every scriptural example of giving is extravagant, and churches that practice Extravagant Generosity teach, preach and practice the tithe. The focus is on the Christian’s need to give because of the giving nature of God whom we worship.
(All page numbers refer to Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, by Robert Schnase, Abingdon Press, 2007)
Wesley’s Three Simple Rules become the second part of the core values that drive and inspire the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” the goal of The United Methodist Church at all levels.
United Methodists offer a way of thinking about a new way of living that has been a part of our Wesleyan heritage since John Wesley first gathered with colleagues in England in the 1700s. In 1743, those early Methodists wrote their general rules, which they framed around three simple rules:
Actually, the early Methodists used slightly different wording and many more of them, but that’s the basic gist. Having claimed God’s salvation, they knew they wanted it to make a difference, for their lives and the world. So, they elaborated ways they would choose to live, as a response to God’s good news.
Retired Bishop Reuben Job’s Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living (Abingdon Press, 2007) is a quick and fresh look at our Methodist way of living in the world. We invite you to read it, and join in our reflecting on what these rules mean for us, here, today in accomplishing the goal of the church.