‘Strengthening Your Small Congregation’ to Be Held in Mid-April at Camp Mack

Photo courtesy of Margaret Marcuson
Margaret Marcuson

“Strengthening Your Small Congregation” is the title of a day-long event planned for Saturday, April 13, from 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m. at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind. The gathering will be devoted to encouraging and equipping pastors and lay leaders of small congregations. It is designed especially to reach those in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio who can travel to Camp Mack within a reasonable amount of time, but it is open to anyone.

Keynote leadership will be provided by Margaret Marcuson, whose presentation will be on “Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself in Small Church Ministry.”

Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively reports some of the story behind the event, featuring two Indiana pastors: Kay Gaier of Wabash Church of the Brethren, and Brenda Hostetler Meyer of Benton Mennonite Church.

The two women met through a Lilly-funded program for small church pastors. “Kay approached me in 2010 about their enthusiasm for the work they’d done and their desire to pass along the same encouragement and insight to other pastors and leaders of small churches like theirs,” Shively remembers. “We had them do an insight session in Grand Rapids (at the Annual Conference), which was standing room only and very well received.

“A few months ago Kay contacted me and said that they were planning a day-long event for small church leaders and that they had already arranged for the keynote leader, Margaret Marcuson, who had worked with them in the Lilly process. They were looking for some support from Mennonite and Church of the Brethren folk. They realized quickly that you don’t just put together a conference, and so we’ve been working collaboratively to give shape to the event.

“I love the initiative of these two pastors and the vision they have for supporting others in the vital ministry of smaller congregations!”

Contributing partners are the Congregational Life Ministries, the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference and the Central District Conference of the Mennonite Church USA, and the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Endorsing partners are Bethany Theological Seminary, the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and two Church of the Brethren districts: Northern Indiana and South/Central Indiana.

Marcuson speaks and writes on leadership and works with church leaders in the US and Canada as a consultant and coach. She is author of “111 Tips to Survive Pastoral Ministry,” “Leaders who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry,” and “Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance” (forthcoming). She has taught in the Leadership in Ministry workshop, a family systems training program for clergy, since 1999. An American Baptist minister, she pastored First Baptist Church of Gardner, Mass., for 13 years, where the average worship attendance was 80 people.

The schedule for the day includes opening and closing worship, a keynote address in the morning, followed by a panel discussion with small church pastors, lunch, and two afternoon workshop sessions. Workshops will be offered on the following topics:
— “Worship in Your Own Voice”
— “Fair Fighting in the Small Church: Caring for Each Other Through Divisive Issues”
— “Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance”
— “Discerning Our Congregation’s Future: Finding the Meeting Place of God’s Intention and Our Hope”
— “The Pastoral Care Team: Elders and Deacons and Pastors, Oh My!”
— “The Gift of Leadership: Structures for Small Congregations”
— “Welcoming and Nurturing Children within the Small Congregation”
— “Evangelism: A Mindset for Mission”

Also an open coaching session with Marcuson will be offered. Participants are invited to bring a challenge from their own churches to this session, at which Marcuson will coach several participants and observers will have the chance to think through possibilities and solutions for their own leadership settings.

Cost is $50 for the first person from a congregation, and $25 for each additional person from the same congregation. Students enrolled in ministry training may attend for $25. Continuing education units are available for an additional $10 fee.

Find out more and register at www.brethren.org/smallchurch . A Facebook page is available at www.facebook.com/smallchurch or go to www.facebook.com/events/173968569409127 . A Twitter stream is planned as well, to be found at #smallchurch2013. For more information, contact 800-323-8039 ext. 303 or congregationallife@brethren.org .

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