Greenwaldt Announces Ground-Breaking Discipleship University Initiative

March 22, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 20, 2007/GBOD/ – "I believe the greatest days for The United Methodist Church are in the future," said the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive for GBOD, during her annual address to the GBOD Board of Directors meeting in Nashville last week.


Greenwaldt introduced a ground-breaking new initiative that will directly address the leadership needs of the church.


Called "Discipleship University," the initiative will involve two-year, academy-styled, learning experiences for church leaders that promise to lead to congregational vitality.


Based on solid research from GBOD's Romans 12 Project, which is identifying best practices in local churches, Discipleship University will offer hands-on skills that lead to an emphasis on worship, small groups, spiritual leadership development and stewardship.


The practice of the Wesleyan means of grace and the church's evangelistic mission of making disciples will be embedded in each track, designed especially for clergy and laity.


This announcement came as part of three major areas of work Greenwaldt cited for the agency over the next year, leading into General Conference 2008.


Renewal of existing churches, the Romans 12 Project, and starting and sustaining new churches across the world will be the main focus of GBOD's work over the next year and beyond General Conference 2008.


In addition, Greenwaldt announced that GBOD, working with the Path One Team for New Church Starts, has a goal of training 1,000 church planters who will start 650 churches in the U. S. by 2012.


These new church starts will have access to media, marketing resources and a host of other services, including internships that link new [church] planters with excellent current planters in new churches who through their work are offering new ways for people to find Jesus Christ.



"We are rallying behind the Council of Bishops' four calls to action. We are primarily focusing on two of the calls – leadership and church growth," Greenwaldt told about 125 board members and agency staff.


"...At GBOD, we believe that disciples of Jesus Christ actually can change the world – one place at a time, one system at a time, moving (over time) to shifting whole paradigms."


Greenwaldt suggested that, while many existing United Methodist churches are doing quite well, there are still churches that are not doing as well.


"Most of the pastors and laity in these churches do not wake up each morning and say to one another, 'I believe we will decline further today.'


Most pastors and laity want to be part of thriving and growing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."


GBOD is responding by focusing its work on the renewal of existing churches and church leaders who want to lead effective disciple-making congregations, and conference leaders who want to help the churches become more effective.


GBOD will also emphasize developing leaders and resources for new church starts, and building effective young people's ministries-all undergirded by spiritual formation.


In addition, over the next two years a small percentage of the agency's work will focus on the reduction of poverty.


GBOD's mission is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, GBOD is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, call the Media Relations Office toll free at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 7017.