Leadership Conferences Change Lives
Every April the Oregon Conference presents two leadership conferences: one in Grants Pass and one in Gladstone. “This event is designed for leadership teams from each church to come and be inspired, equipped, and empowered for more effective mission in God’s church,” says Don Livesay, Oregon Conference president.
“Leadership conferences have proven to be life-changing for churches and their members,” says Scott LeMert, Oregon Conference assistant to the president and leadership-conference coordinator. Bekki Gardner, from Tillamook, and Charles Shultz, Brookings/Gold Beach pastor, couldn’t agree more.
“Last year I did not want to drive over to the leadership conference and back by myself, so I talked my husband, Scott, into going with me,” Gardner said. Wanting to learn as much as possible, they decided to attend different workshops and then share the information with each other.
Because Scott’s first seminar choice was filled, he decided to attend Jere Patzer’s presentation on missions. During that seminar, a call for people to join the NPUC India mission project was extended, and Scott felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge. “From that hour or two that he spent there, Scott and God organized nine people into two teams to evangelize 10 villages in India,” Gardner adds. “There are 10 congregations that will be worshiping in 10 newly built churches this May in India because of the leadership conferences.”
Early in 2004, Shultz arrived at the Brookings Church, so when the leadership conference came to Grants Pass, he wasn’t sure what it was. A leadership team of eight members was sent. “We were not able to cover all the presentations,” says Shultz, "so we decided to split up and cover as many as we could.”
A few days later, the leadership team met to discuss what they had learned and how to put that knowledge into practice. They called a meeting and invited all the church members; about 25 people came.
Since the church had no formal personal ministries leader, this group decided to assume the duties of community outreach. Every four to six weeks, the group has met as an outreach think tank to discuss and implement projects.
“The ideas given for outreach could be classified as ‘friendship projects,’” says Shultz. Implemented projects have included organizing a community Fourth of July picnic, operating a fair booth that distributes water, and distributing Valentine’s Day cards, complete with candy kisses.
This year when the leadership conference came to Grants Pass again, Brookings Church sent a leadership team of 22 members! “I personally have learned a new concept of evangelism,” Shultz said. “Friendship evangelism consists of having 1) a full hand—something to give to people, 2) a full heart—genuine love and interest in people, and 3) a full head—learning how to explain what we believe. Leadership conferences are wonderful opportunities for churches to learn how to reach the people in their community.”
Bekki Gardner agrees. “I am so excited, because I don’t know what God has planned for me and our church this next year, but I know He is going to launch it at the leadership conference, and it will be an adventure.”