Leading Beyond the Walls


By Paige Swaim-Presley

In 1990, Adam Hamilton started the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection with four people. Today, the church averages over 8,500 in worship. Two-thirds of those attenders were previously non-religious or nominally religious.

Reaching the unchurched is an important part of Adam’s ministry. “I find great joy in seeing people reach a point where the faith makes sense to them, and then come to the place where they want to follow Christ,” says Hamilton. He is passionate about mobilizing people to be in Christian mission in their community and beyond.

Adam is also passionate about helping other churches grow in evangelism and mission. He taught three church renewal sessions at the Mississippi Annual Conference. These sessions focused on effective leadership; inspiring worship and preaching; and reaching out to the unchurched.

Effective leaders, Adam taught, are people their followers can be proud of. They reach out to encourage others, and they live out their faith with authenticity and integrity. He spoke also to the critical nature of lay people’s ministry in the church.

In his second session, Hamilton focused on the importance of excellent worship and preaching. “You can have a great leader, but if worship and preaching are uninspiring you find that people aren’t drawn to the experience,” said Hamilton. He stressed the importance of spending time planning good worship. Adam also emphasized that we must teach people to expect to experience the living God in worship.

In his final session, Adam taught about missional outreach. He highlighted ways churches can prepare for and reach out to non-religious neighbors. “For today’s non- or nominally-religious people,” he said, “we reach out to them first not just by talking about Jesus, but by inviting them to join in God’s mission.” He also shared the Church of the Resurrection’s best practices for following up with first-time visitors.

Adam closed by speaking about the power of a Wesleyan approach to the Gospel. “I think United Methodists have a way of communicating the Gospel that, when presented passionately and with excellence, really speaks to a generation who’ve walked away from the church. The pairing of head and heart, holiness and grace, an evangelical and social gospel, is very compelling today,” Hamilton believes. “But unfortunately, if we do it without excellence, it isn’t as compelling.”

Adam’s teaching and preaching have certainly been compelling for the Mississippi Annual Conference this year. His words have inspired many to strive for excellence in ministry. He gave Mississippi churches the tools to grow in both mission and evangelism. The Annual Conference was grateful for his presence, and prays for his continuing ministry.