Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball has tasked the 2018 Annual Conference with focusing on what it means to be innovative as we lead people into our mission of reaching people for Christ.
Rev. Junius Dotson, widely recognized as one of the United Methodist Church’s most innovative leaders, will help conference attendees explore this topic.
Dotson is General Secretary (the title would be Chief Executive Officer in the secular world) of Discipleship Ministries, one of 14 international agencies of The United Methodist Church.
The primary purpose of the agency Dotson leads is to assist annual conferences, districts, and 35,000 local churches in their efforts to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Based in Nashville, TN, Dotson and his staff of more than 150 employees provide resources for new church starts, leadership development, Christian education, spiritual formation, worship, stewardship, and evangelism.
Members of the West Virginia Conference will have three opportunities to hear Dotson. He will teach at 8:45 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and preach at the Friday evening community BBQ in front of Wesley Chapel.
“Making disciples for Jesus Christ begins with having a heart for all God’s people – even people not personally known to us, people who reject God or reject us, and even our enemies,” Dotson said through a spokesman. “The crucial first step in developing an intentional discipleship pathway is to seek out and engage people outside the church walls.”
“Every intentional discipleship system or pathway should include a long and prayerful discussion about those in our community who are not yet here,” Dotson said. “Every church should endeavor to create intentional spaces where the nonreligious and nominally religious, or even those who have rejected the church, might find room to search and explore spirituality and Christianity. Building relationships by getting out and engaging the community is key to successful intentional discipleship.”
“To varying degrees, churches have moved away from this paradigm and, in a noble attempt to save the church as an institution, have lost sight of the very people we are called to reach,” he said.
“One unintended consequence of the church growth movement of the past 25 years is that people simply became numbers on a report. In too many cases, strategic plans focused on filling the sanctuary with the goal of becoming the next nationally known megachurch.”
Dotson became head of Discipleship Ministries in 2016. He previously was pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, KS.
He received his undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Texas. He began his graduate work at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion. He was ordained in 1992.
Dotson’s book, Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations, will be available Wednesday and Thursday at the Discipleship Ministries booth at the Ministry Expo in the Rockefeller Gym. Also, it may be available at the Cokesbury bookstore Friday and on Saturday morning.
In addition, the book may be downloaded by going online to www.seeallthepeople.org and clicking on “Resources and Downloads.”
Additional resources can be found online at https://store.umcdiscipleship.org/see-all-the-people.html
For more information about Discipleship Ministries, go to www.UMCdiscipleship.org