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.
What I did not anticipate was the impact upon clergy relationships within the conference. Clergy persons began to genuinely love and care for one another. The process enabled clergy to overcome previous barriers to healthy relationships. Strong working teams evolved and the Annual Conference re-organized itself with small committed teams focused upon fulfilling the Conference's vision and mission. We are far from where we believe God intends us to be, but significantly closer than when the process began.
Annual Conferences seeking to create teams of leaders—clergy and laity—committed to fulfilling the Church's mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world, should examine whether the leadership at SLI could facilitate the reformation needed in the twenty-first century. I found the leadership at SLI to be flexible and determined to assist our conference in fulfilling our vision. I commend them to you.
D. Max Whitfield, Bishop NWTX Conference UMC