Hello beautiful people of South Georgia.
As we continue to focus on growing a Christlike world it is important that we affirm those reaching identified goals, treat everyone special and encourage disciples to become confident leaders. Highlighting the five stars, the small membership church and emphasizing the coaching role of a disciple will hopefully remind us that being Christlike requires us to be intentional.
The Five Star accountability system focuses on discipleship making and identifies five indicators as benchmarks for being a healthy Annual Conference. The five stars are: teaching, self care, giving 100 percent of apportionments, a 5 percent membership growth and being a participating connectional leader. We acknowledged Five Star pastors during the 2011 Annual Conference session and the District Superintendents will be working with their leadership teams to develop Five Star plans for individuals, laity and congregations.
These 22 pastors received the Five Star medallion during the 2011 Annual Conference session: Jim Cowart, Jim Davis, Garth Duke-Barton, Joe Flowers Jr., Bryan Gerstel, Chip Grantham, David Griffin, Jay Hanson, Mark Hardin, Lamar Harper, Jack Key, Larry Kent Miller, Randall Nease, Barbara Nelson, Tyler Plaxico, Donna Sue Roberts, H. Lynn Roberts, Ernie Rogers, G. Randall Spicer, John Stephens, Denise Walton and Karen Zeigler. 135 pastors were acknowledged for receiving four stars.
The small membership church
In a Christlike culture every aspect of God’s creation is valued and appreciated for its contribution to the whole. It is important for all of us who are part of the connection to do all we can to be intentional about showing our support and appreciation for all of God’s people regardless of membership size or location. In addition to being more kindhearted and inclusive toward the small membership church I would like to lift up some reminders:
· I am the product of a small membership church. A three-point charge with a full time local pastor and very involved lay people blessed my early spiritual formation.
· Regardless of the size of the church, all of us have access to the same size God, Bible and Holy Spirit.
· Great ideas need to be tailored to fit your situation. Learn from the best regardless of membership size. When it comes to learning, effectiveness should be the primary consideration.
· Success is not about context but rather what you do with what you have where you are. The person with one talent is just as important as the one with five in a Christlike culture. As a bishop I have given more five stars to small membership congregations than to large membership congregations.
If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ it may be helpful to think of yourself not only as a Shepherd but also as a coach. Both a shepherd and coach have similar goals: lead, direct, nurture, protect and be a constant guide in and through troubling times. If you are feeling timid or confused about your role as pastor or lay person it may helpful to see yourself as a loving coach. The church is God’s vehicle for mission. It is your job to make sure that God’s vehicle is functioning at its best. So put on your coaching cap and take more responsibility for how you engage and challenge the congregation where you serve to establish goals that constantly train, practice, encourage and measure as we grow in grace to be more Christlike.
Until next time remember, God’s will for us is good. We must do the rest.
James R. King, Jr.