Living Out The POWER of We


Heritage UMC Loving, Learning, Leading            
Photo right:  The Ladies Only Sunday school class at Heritage wanted to do a project together and filled over 200 backpacks with school supplies.

A way of discipleship-making is becoming more desirable to Mississippi United Methodists.  It involves three components: loving, learning and reading presented by Spiritual Leadership Incorporated (SLI). The three are the inspiration behind the new Mississippi Conference theme, Living Out The POWER We.

Through the process loving, learning, and leading, members of churches and other organizations first grow in their faithfulness to God and then their fruitfulness for God.  The latter is accomplished by learning the language of leadership and a set of cutting edge tools and processes for leading.  The next move is applying this learning through leading the organizations of which they are a part.

The Circuit Rider is featuring stories of faith communities across the Mississippi Conference that are loving, learning and leading.   In the series, Living Out The POWER of We, Heritage United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg shares its story.

Loving, Learning, and Leading at Heritage UMC

For the last six years, the Rev. Scot Jones has been an associate pastor at Heritage United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  He's been on staff there roughly 14 years and can passionately state one of the church's strengths. 

"We are good at making members, but we don't want to be just a member-making church.  We want to be a disciple-making church," said Jones.  
He and fellow participants in a small group at Heritage (mostly laity) are committed to being a disciple-making church.  They will soon reconvene after a break from consecutive 8-hour monthly meetings over an 18 month period.  They are shaping the church vision, and the process calls them to be loving, learning and leading together.
"When you love someone, it is easier to learn with them.  We take the time to love each other and share Glory Sightings within the church. We spend time praying together and for each other.  We study the Bible and learn together and then our leading comes out from that," stated Jones.

As a result of the small group meetings, Heritage now has a Ministry Action Plan (MAP).
A MAP is a discernment tool that allows you to discover where you are and make intentional, prayer-directed decisions about where you are called to go. It is a valuable tool that is both spiritual and practical. It is spiritual because it is not just a document that is produced in a void. A MAP is prayerfully considered and created in conversation with God. It is practical because it lays out objectives, goals, and plans in a way that will help your daily ministry life.

"It's not just any plan.  It is a Christ-centered plan," explained Jane Hudson, a lay person in the group. 
Thanks to the MAP, the new church slogan, Connect. Grow. Go. was suggested and embraced by the congregation.
"We connect to bring people into the church.  Once we get the people in the church, we need to be growing people in their discipleship to Jesus Christ.  We feel like then there will be more going and people saying Jesus has put on my heart to go," said Hudson.

She leads the Ladies Only Sunday school class.  At the request of the small group, all Sunday school classes are creating a MAP. Hudson's class completed theirs and decided they lacked at "go." So, as a class, they supported the backpack ministry and filled 200 bags with school supplies.

Through MissionInsite the small group knows more about the community around the church.  Data reports that 31 percent of the families within a five-mile radius of the church are children with single mothers.  Over the next three to five years, the area will experience nine percent growth in housing.  

 "It helps you look for places in the community where you can go and minister, and it helps you refocus some of the ministries in your church. Maybe we need to be doing something to try and reach single mothers and build community with them. It is all about making disciples," said Jones. 

Heritage UMC is Living Out The POWER of We.  Click here to read a previous story about loving, learning and leading.

Living Out The POWER of We in Mississippi means loving, learning, and leading that is rooted in Love, Generosity, Justice, and Apprenticeship. 

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The Mississippi Annual Conference—empowered by love, generosity, justice and apprenticeship—forms spiritual leaders, faith communities and connections so more disciples of Jesus Christ transform the world.