Discipleship agency to shift focus to grow leaders and churches


GBOD will concentrate  its work in the areas of leadership development, church growth, ministry with the poor and new church starts, the agency announced during its board of directors meeting in Nashville this month.

The agency will center its work in the area of leadership development with plans to strengthen successful programs currently in place and by launching new initiatives that will lead to exponential growth in the United Methodist denomination through new churches and impact on church leadership.

“GBOD is in a unique position to address the church’s leadership needs and partner with the Council of Bishops, General Board of Global Ministries and other strategic partners to develop strategies that lead to the creation of successful new church starts in the U.S.,” said the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive for GBOD.

Discipleship University
In the area of leadership development, the agency presented a ground-breaking new initiative, which will directly address the leadership needs of the church.

"Discipleship University" will offer church leaders two-year learning experiences patterned after the Upper Room Ministries’ successful Academy for Spiritual Formation.

Based on best practices in local churches and drawing on more than 35 years of local church experience, the initiative will provide skills and models that will help reverse the decline in United Methodist church growth and membership.

Present staffing efforts will move and be reworked as Discipleship University, which will consist of a full range of course offerings on the GBOD’s Nashville campus and in local churches, as launched.

Consultation support by GBOD staff and other experts, peer learning groups, Web-based courses, learning communities and regional introduction events are major components of the initiative.

“New church starts will also be a major new initiative that we will collaborate on with our strategic partners, using research-based best practices,” said Greenwaldt.

By collaborating with the Council of Bishops and other United Methodist agencies, 650 new congregations and a pool of 1,000 qualified “church planters” are projected by 2012 with the goal being to re-evangelize America.

GBOD will also work with leaders in Central Conferences (countries in Africa, Europe and the Philippines) to develop sustainable church resources that will be created and made available for use in local contexts.

GBOD’s mission is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples.

GBOD Web site