A2 Indicators help churches improve ministries


By Embra Jackson
Administrative Assistant to the Bishop

The A2 Indicators have proven to be a wonderful tool to assist churches in fulfilling their mission of making disciples.

Shane and Pokey Stanford are to be commended for the development of this tool. In addition the churches that have engaged this process are to be commended. One lay member of a local church said, “The A2 Indicators are the best thing the conference has done in order to assist the local church.”

The results have been very dynamic to say the least. The Office of Congregational Development has begun to respond to the needs that local churches revealed via their participation in the A2 process. Shane Stanford, Elaine Dye, the newly formed District A2 Teams and I have begun to respond to requests from churches and districts in regard to their needs. In fact, each district’s A2 team will be enrolled in the Transformational Leaders School that will help train them to assist churches in their quest for vitality.

This article is the first in a series regarding the A2 Indicators. Let’s first look at servant ministries.

Servant Ministries are rooted in Matthew 25:31-46. The scripture says that, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren [or sisters], you did it to Me.” Servant Ministries are defined as persons served in mission by ministries that impact the community, build up the body and bring people into relationship with God. These include care ministries within the congregation as well as ministries beyond the walls of the church (Acts 2:42-47).

Most of our churches assessed themselves rather highly in this area. They listed many ministries to validate that they were engaged in this type ministry. The lists included clothes closets, visitation teams, food pantries, after-school tutoring, prayer teams, etc. Many churches told stories of ministries in this area. Two churches (Glendale and Tilton) were recently highlighted in the Mississippi United Methodist Advocate. At a recent workshop that I led at Central UMC in Jackson a commitment was made to begin a sports ministry to the youth in the area surrounding the church. 

During Lent we were reminded of how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper and how he told the mother of James and John that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. In order to be great we must become the servant to others. What a radical concept!

We live in a world where we are taught to “look out for number one” and that “I’ve got mine – you get yours.” Churches that are engaged in servant ministries are able to move beyond caring for their own flock to caring for “the least of these.”

Churches that are ranked as a 3 or a 4 (on a scale of 1-4 with one the minimum) on this indicator are those that respond to the call of God by following the example of Jesus in reaching out to not only their members but by also reaching out to others regardless of their race, creed, social status, etc. Obeying the mandate of the Matthew 25: 31-46 is the major key to true servant ministry. A review of the text reminds us that we are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, house the homeless and to visit those in prison.

If your church is not engaged in servant ministry then you might wish to:

  • Analyze the social, age, race, economic status, etc. of your congregation and then compare this with your local community (defined as a 15-minute car drive from the church). Contact your district office or me for assistance obtaining demographic church and community data.
  • Analyze the vision and mission of your church and compare that with your current ministries.
  • Compile a list of the various gifts that your church members possess.
  • Compile a list of community needs by interviewing local community leaders and by taking a walk through the local community and talking with local residents.
  • Compare the local church members’ gifts with the local community needs and then determine, after prayer, what servant ministries your church should try to develop in partnership with your community. The SMART (Acts 29) Plan is an excellent tool to assist with this process.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of these ministries and lift them up in prayer on a regular basis.

If we engage servant ministry in this manner, I am convinced that our churches will truly become great. If you have comments or wish to share stories of how your church is engaged in servant ministries please contact me at the Office of Congregational Development at 601-948-4561 or embra@mississippi-umc.org.