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Bethany Mission Society in India

Rev. Sreenivasa Rao. Chepa, President of Bethany Mission Society (Bethany Mission Society), was introduced to SLI's L3 approach to ministry while working toward his DMin at Asbury Seminary.  He was so impacted by these ideas that he wrote his PhD thesis on this model.  He is now back in India and is teaching other pastors the L3 model.

To really advance his efforts in India he needs to come to SLI's coach training in 2016 but the travel costs are quite high.  If you'd like to help with his travels, please visit our donations page (Donation Page) and click on SLI's Scholarship fund.


Thank and God Bless!

Moving From “Have-Do-Be” to “Be-Do-Have”

As our Indiana Conference leadership teams have worked with the consultants from Spiritual Leadership, Inc. (SLI), one of the most profound principles we have learned is the need for all of us to move from the "Have-Do-Be" secular approach to life to the "Be-Do-Have" spiritual approach taught by Jesus and our Christian forerunners. Let me explain.

If we listen to the secular world, especially to the many ads and commercials which bombard us constantly, we can tend to believe that the meaning of life is to HAVE. We are told that we must have a whole variety of products, technologies, toys, and trinkets. The message is that we must have a bigger one, a better one, a newer one, a nicer one, and then we will be happy.

Likewise our culture says to us that life is all about what we DO, and the more busy our calendar, the more frantic and hurried our lifestyle, the better. Even in the life of the church, we strive to be busy, to be doing good things, and to have no extra time for anything - not even enough time to pray or listen to God. If you ask most people, "Tell me about yourself," their response is to tell you what they DO for a living.

Apparently the hope of our secular culture (which creeps into the church) is that if we HAVE and DO then we will BE happy and fulfilled.

Our SLI consultants have reminded us of the Biblical truth that life is about a different formula: BEING leads to DOING which helps us to be satisfied with what we HAVE. We are invited by Jesus to trust God, to focus upon our relationship with God and others, and then we will discover God leading us to live our lives in a way which provides fulfillment, meaning, and purpose. We should focus upon BEING a beloved child of God, who wants to DO the Godly things in life that make a true difference, and then everyone will HAVE what they need.

So our Indiana Conference leadership teams are spending up to 1/3 of our meeting times on BEING in relationship with God through times of worship, prayer, silence, and deep sharing. We then move to asking, "God, help us to prioritize what we DO around our mission and Your purposes." Then we begin to discover that we already HAVE the gifts of God in abundance if we live according to God's designs.

This shift from HAVE-DO-BE to BE-DO-HAVE is making a huge difference in our individual lives and our life together as Conference leaders.

UMC Bishop Mike Coyner in his E-pistle - 10/29/13

Opening Our Doors


ABIDE inspires Oakland UMC to reach out


By Barbara Nissen, special contributor
Oakland United Methodist Church in Topeka found a way to put its experience with the ABIDE program to work in the community. They started with children.

Oakland UMC in Topeka

ABIDE is a several-month process to help small-membership churches rediscover what it means to be abiding with Christ.

“Part of the ABIDE process is to get to know and engage with our neighbors,” Pastor Georgia Hale said. “We decided to start with the children. So many of them are hungry.”

The 125-year-old church with an average attendance of 49 is located in a working class neighborhood that was once its own community called Oakland. The neighborhood now is populated with younger people, single parents, immigrants and lots of rental properties. Nearly 85 percent of school-age children receive free lunches. So, that’s where the Oakland ABIDE team turned its attention.

In addition to supporting the BackPack program, which provides food for 1,000 area children at risk for going hungry over the weekend, Oakland tried a new thing. They offered Vacation Bible School every Saturday afternoon during Lent for children in the neighborhood. Read the rest of this entry »

A Different VBS

Cokesbury United Methodist Church provided an opportunity for children and youth to participate in a different type of Vacation Bible School Saturday at Fox Pond Park.

“We are taking the vacation out of Vacation Bible School,” Rev. Dennis Peay said. “It’s an effort to practice what we preach.”

Children came to the park and practiced giving back to the community and environment by cleaning up trash, raking and creating a more beautiful surrounding for people to enjoy. They also had fun and fellowship through music, singing, a prayer walk, games and a picnic lunch.

“When we clean up we’re helping the earth,” said Ellie Atkinson, who starts third grade next month. “I saw a bottle when we were driving in and I can’t wait to go pick it up.”

The message of this particular Vacation Bible School program coincides with a sermon series Peay has introduced to his congregation. The series includes a message that emphasizes what it means to be a disciple.

Cokesburry United Methodist is a 227-year-old church which began seeing worship attendance dwindle two years ago.

“There was not a lot of direction on what the vision of our church was,” Peay said. “I was introduced to a program called ‘Abide’ through denomination leadership. Read the rest of this entry »

ABIDE Impacted My life

ABIDE has had a wonderful impact on my life. It brought me closer to Christ and through Him I have been able to use the knowledge learned in ABIDE to become a leader in areas where I never felt God could use me before, such as leading my church's ABIDE team and teaching women's groups. Thank you for this program.

In Christ,

Beth Murphy, Team member 
Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge, NC

ABIDE was Life-Changing for our Team

Though entering into the ABIDE Process with some trepidation, we have found it to be life-changing for our five-member team. It is amazing the bond we have establish between us. We hope that we can spread this love and enthusiasm with others. We also have great optimism about the potential impact on our small church and community as we head into the future of this ministry - with God's help.

ABIDE Team of Big Springs United Methodist Church, Kansas

Restored Focus and Purpose

The ABIDE program has brought a renewed sense of excitement and hope to our church. We were already a maintaining church, but leaning towards a nostalgic downturn. ABIDE is refocusing our hearts and minds on the purpose of the church and helping us look once again to the future. Our group is deepening their life in Christ, and seeking God's will for themselves and our church. All of this after only 3 months in the program. I can hardly wait to see what God will do here by the time the program ends! Thanks SLI, for helping us ABIDE in Christ once again.

Debbie Arvelo, Pastor, 
Alden United Methodist Church - 
Alden, Kansas

Support through the Storm

I found a place where I could share the pain of ministry and find support. I found...a place where we were honest with each other about the difficulty of leading… and received support and encouragement. The [envnironment] enabled me to have the strength and support to stay through the storm to see what might be on the other side. I'm not sure that we are on the other side of the storm yet but, facing the storm together is far better than going it alone.

Amy Shanholtzer, 
Director of Congregational Development
, West Virginia Annual Conference UMC

Grateful for SLI’s Commitment

"I am grateful for SLI's commitment to leadership development. Marrying the principles of spiritual formation with performance coaching, their ministry helps Christian leaders maximize their impact".

Adam Hamilton, Sr. Pastor, 
Church of the Resurrection
, Overland Park, KS

A Bishop’s Perspective

The Northwest Texas Conference began working with SLI several years ago. When we began the contract, I believed SLI would provide a helpful leadership development tool for the pastors in the Conference. SLI designed the process around elements that I considered vital for Church leaders--values, mission, vision and ministry action plans. They designed the process to include covenant relationships and strengthen the spiritual life of the participants. The process produced all of these desired results. Read the rest of this entry »

Not “Just Another Program”

Over the past two years I have been involved with the SLI process at Grace Church through the Southwest District here in the Florida Conference.  I have to admit that I was a little concerned that the experience might just be "another program" which would basically provide me with the same information about the same old thing.  I also entered the SLI process a bit cautiously worried that the focus might simply be a re-packaging of the "church growth" materials we had been bombarded with over the past 15 years.  I participated because I was invited and in turn found that my worries were cast away by the emphasis on developing spiritually healthy leaders seeking to love God, learn together and lead the church into the future.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fun, Informative, Effective

SLI has been the single most important and valuable continuing education experience I have had: it is fun, informative, and effective. It is a lot of fun to get together with the other people in our small groups; we laugh a lot and enjoy a special camaraderie. The SLI experience is packed with valuable strategies and insights for ministry that I have not found anywhere else. I have become a more effective spiritual leader because of it. Best of all, as we have applied the content learned through SLI, many in my congregation who never before viewed themselves as spiritual leaders are becoming exactly that- and they are having a ton of fun doing it.

John Tyson, Sr Pastor, Duck UMC, North Carolina

Growing and Thriving

I serve a church who has had a long history with SLI.  Two projects have been conducted within the congregation, and we engaged a coach to walk along side us during a difficult time in the life of the church.  It was most helpful to have an objective, spirit led third party to help us work through some volatile issues. I personally have enjoyed the resources SLI has provided to help me as a leader, as well as the church to address the current issues and challenges the church faces today.  Our church has turned the corner and is growing and thriving thanks to the guidance we have received from the folks at SLI.

Melissa Shortridge, Pastor, New Martinsville, WV

More Excited about Ministry

The Grace Spiritual Leadership Academy (a project of SLI) has blessed me in so many ways that it will be hard to write them all. So, I will point out only a few.

First, the focus and direction of my ministry is clearer than it has ever been.  Second, I am more excited about ministry now than at any other time in the nearly 35 years I have been serving full-time.  Third, I am watching the Holy Spirit cause ministry to bubble up out of the hearts of ALL God's people, without my having to force it, or push it.  Finally, I am honored to have opportunities to share the biblical principles and practical skills and strategies I have been receiving from SLI, in order to help be part of a movement in the Church to change the world for Jesus Christ.

It doesn't get any better than THIS (although grandchildren might be a close second)!

Mike Loomis, Pastor, FUMC Punta Gorda, Florida

Something Great for God

What impact did the leadership project have on you personally? (your abiding...) The leadership project impacted me in many ways.  The primary way is in my willingness to take more risks (or perhaps simply being more bold) in my leadership.  The strong emphasis on building a team was critical in this taking place.  I no longer feel alone in pushing for new initiatives and ministries.  My boldness has also resulted in being more permission giving to leaders and their ministry ideas.  Although change has never been a comfortable thing for me, I have found that as my leadership has grown my willingness to change and to be a change agent has grown as well.

I highly recommend an SLI leadership project for pastors and churches who no longer want to just dream about doing something great for God, but actually want to do something great for God.  Read the rest of this entry »

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