New Church Leadership Institute Coming to Portland


In the February issue of the Southern Connection, the newsletter of the Southern Distirct, Rev. Eilidh Lowery, pastor at Valley United Methodist Church in Veneta, Oregon, writes how attending the New Church Leadership Institute (NCLI) transformed the way she does ministry. 

I have had a lot of questions about the church for a long time. I know we're in decline as a denomination and that we need to do church differently. Being someone who grew up in the church and who deeply loves the church it was hard for me to even conceptualize what this different church would look like. Jeff and I had worked at doing emerging worship and multi-generational small groups in other churches. While successful, these programs were really just innovations on regular worship and Christian education. I was looking for answers of how and what to do to really change church into something that mattered to the community now while still serving the needs of the faithful in the church.

NCLI challenged and shocked me, engaged and inspired me. The best thing I learned was about the church bubble. Most pastors and church folks operate inside a bubble with the pastor spending the bulk of their time in the office, working at home, or visiting church members. Most church members have relationships with the same group of people they have always known. What I learned was that the key to engaging new people is to put yourself into places where you can begin to intentionally develop relationships with people.

NCLI really gave me the permission to let go of my preconceived notions of how a pastor should work and instead focus on how to engage people in the community. This meant everything from changing where we bank and shop as a family to joining Rotary and the local Parent Teacher Organization. I write my sermon at a local restaurant every Thursday and folks know they can stop by and visit with me there. Our church meets in public places for different events, trying to again get outside our bubble and interact with people in the community.

In nearly every conversation I have with anyone in the community I share that I am the pastor of Valley UMC. I used to be afraid to share that, almost embarrassed to be so brazenly evangelizing. Now I tell people because it is a defining piece of my identity in this community and sharing that information has lead to all sorts of amazing conversations and places of grace for me.

I would recommend that every pastor in our conference attend NCLI. The work we are doing at CLD fits perfectly with the sessions at NCLI, where attendees are offered real, practical examples from folks who have done this work about how they broke out of their bubbles and transformed their churches. Part of NCLI also talks about intentional community and new monasticism, cutting edge places where faithful folks are blazing a radical way forward of being church. For every type of pastor, with our own unique giftedness, NCLI offers insights on how to best shape your ministry for today.

Contact Beth Estock bethestock@yahoo.com  if you are interested in learning more about the March event in Portland.