The Revs. William Gibson, Brad Beeman, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, the Revs. DJ del Rosario and Molly Fraser were some of the clergy in attendance for the Multiplying Ministries cohort meeting at PNWUMC.
By the Rev. Dr. William D. Gibson | Photos by Jesse N. Love
Here is an important question to consider:
What does multiplication look like for and in our churches?
On October 6, we launched the initial pilot Multiplying Ministries cohort. It’s made up of selected church planters and pastors from the Seattle and Tacoma Districts of The PNW Conference, alongside planters and pastors from The Oregon-Idaho Conference. Coordinated and hosted by the Office of Congregational Development and facilitated by Brian Zehr of Intentional Impact, the cohort launched an eight-month journey with great enthusiasm.
“There was a level of early engagement from this cohort that I have yet to experience doing this work with other conferences and groups,” explained Zehr. “When you are already working outside the box, as these folks are, the journey we begin together is exciting right from the start.”
The work of the Multiplying Ministries cohort falls into three areas:
1) Developing spiritually grounded leaders
2) Creating cultural shift
3) Re-infusing an expectation of multiplication back into the DNA of our churches/faith communities.
“My initial impression is that this cohort is grounded in spiritual practice and discipleship,” said the Rev. Shalom Agtarap, a church planter and pastor in Burien, Wash., who also facilitates the South End Union of the Seattle District. “I am encouraged that our homework after one session is to steep ourselves in prayer, to intentionally notice and see people through compassionate lenses, and to affirm the gifts we see in others. What a life of gratitude!”
The eight-month program includes six face-to-face daylong gatherings, supported by six follow-up coaching sessions, and intentional connection and collaboration of cohort members throughout the program.
“As one of the longer ‘tenured’ pastors in the room, I was especially energized by the evangelical fervor, justice-driven passion, and enduring hope that filled our space,” explained the Rev. Kelly Dahlman-Oeth, pastor of Ronald UMC in Shoreline, Wash. “I am grateful that each gathering comes with personal, contextualized homework and a monthly check-in call for coaching and accountability.”
The Multiplying Ministries cohort is centered on creating change and applying learnings in practical ways that help pastors and their communities of faith discover what it looks like to be church in our post-Christian context.
“I pity whoever sits next to me because I tend to mutter ‘Wow, there it is,’ and start typing away about whatever rabbit trail my mind went on,” said the Rev. Jeremy Smith, minister of discipleship for First United Methodist Church in Portland, Ore. “That happened several times in the first session, which is a good start!”
Our Methodist movement was initiated across America, beginning in 1766, through exponential multiplication in discipleship. Today, if we hope to reach new people, we have to be willing to practice what it looks like to be Christian and create new intersection points within our unique settings.
“My hope for this process is that it lifts our heads up from being buried in our contexts and keeps our vision on the horizon, where all the connection is working and living as one body in many parts. We do this in theory but not well in context, so hopefully this is a step in the right direction,” concluded Smith.
Based on measured results, it is our hope to open up Multiplying Ministries to other planters and pastors from across the Greater Northwest Area.
For more information, contact William Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org.