Healthy Congregations Task Force Report to the 2007 NC Annual Confernce

Below are the pieces of the Healthy Congregations Task Force to the 2007 session of the North Carolina Annual Conference. Since I was not able to join this task force's preliminary work I hesitate to criticize the report. It was a valiant effort by some key leaders to get us focused on the congregational systems and not just clergy leadership. Ideally local congregations will take the healthy church assessment, be challenged by the accompanying bible study, and develop a Ministry Action Plan to implement what is learned by the congregations. The piece that is missing is how the broader church and the congregational leadership (clergy and lay) hold each other accountable to the plan's implementation.

Find the appropriate resource below:
  1. Healthy Congregations Report
  2. Healthy Congregations Assessment
  3. Healthy Congregations Bible Study
  4. Healthy Congregations Ministry Action Plan

Congregational Development Report to the 2007 NC Annual Conference

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, as we continue to lead most conferences in professions of faith, new membership, and worship attendance growth.

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 100 churches are assisted, most of them small membership in size, and this was again the case in 2006. The Office of Congregational Development continues to provide through its annual contract with Percept Group, Inc., up-to-date community demographic data, accessible on-line and without cost, to all local churches (

In a little more than a decade, about 40 new churches have been started 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, African-American, Korean, Native American, and Asian. Although not all of the new church projects initiated have been successful, the newest churches in the North Carolina Conference continue to lead the way in membership growth.

After a season of prayerful reflection we are moving again with new church launches as we celebrate the formation of Shepherd’s House in Durham and Greater Heights in East Clayton. In the coming conference year we anticipate launching new churches in the Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Wilmington districts.

We celebrate with the A Time to Grow funding initiative and the Congregational Development Fund, Inc. the creation of the Academy for Leadership Excellence with the hiring of Dr. Irene Brownlee as the executive director. The quiet efforts of laity and clergy to the A Time to Grow campaign continues to identify laity whose generosity with their wealth, combined with their belief in the value of strong churches and effective church leaders, will advance and strengthen local church ministry and new church planting ministry in the North Carolina Conference. To date, about $1.6 million has been committed by North Carolina Conference laity.

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. Each year, one grant is made to assist in the establishment of a new church outside of the U.S. In 2006 and 2007, grants were made to build a new church and to put roofs on others new churches in Zimbabwe, in cooperation with ZOE Ministry.

Allen Bingham, Chairperson
Stephen C. Compton, Executive Director, Office of Congregational Development

Pastor's Column in the June Newsletter

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Cindy, Ann, William, and I thank you all for the season of mission and ministry we have shared together in over the past four years. Along the way we have learned many valuable lessons, made a few mistakes, and developed lasting friendships in the body of Christ. On June 24, my last Sunday as your pastor, we will have communion together. The breaking of the bread and sharing in the cup is for me one of the best ways that the church marks its unity. In sharing in the same loaf and same juice we are made one with each other and one with a great company of witnesses throughout all time and space.

As I am leaving this place I commend one last activity for your spiritual growth. Twenty years ago I read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline for the first time. Foster’s book on the inward, outward, and corporate disciplines of the followers of Jesus grabbed my attention. Since then I have devoured every book that Foster has written and learned more of God with each bite! Out of this reading comes a passion for Renovare, the organization he leads. On July 28 we will be hosting a Renovare conference featuring two presenters, James Bryan Smith and Glandion Carney – these guys dwell deeply in the spirit life with our God. During this daylong retreat you will be introduced to the six spiritual streams of living water from which Christians drink. They are:
  • Holiness – The Virtuous Life
  • Social Justice – The Compassionate Life
  • Evangelical – The Word-Centered Life
  • Incarnational – The Sacramental Life
  • Charismatic – The Spirit-Empowered Life
  • Contemplative – The Prayer-Filled Life
You will probably find a spiritual home in one of these movements, but all are commendable in your walk with Christ. Perhaps the greatest part of this day will be the invitation to join a small group in pursuing each of these spiritual disciplines for several weeks following our retreat. I cannot wait to hear what great things God will unleash among the people called Methodist in Pinehurst after this event.

I look forward to breaking bread together in the coming weeks … bless be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.

Grace & Peace, Allen