The Wesleyan Leadership Conference aims to help The United Methodist Church develop leaders for congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This year's theme is:
Sharing Pastoral Power:
Wesleyan Foundations for Leadership in the Congregation
A disciple is a student who follows and patterns his or her life on Jesus Christ. Disciples witness to Jesus Christ in the world and follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture tells us disciples make disciples.
“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Disciple-making in the early church was a cooperative, communal process of Christian formation. It was built upon shared leadership among persons whom God called to the work of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
John Wesley drew upon the wisdom of the early church when he developed a method of forming disciples who make disciples. They are lay women and men who are experienced in the practices of discipleship: prayer, worship, Scripture, fasting, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, visiting prisoners, welcoming strangers, etc.
Wesley’s pastoral experience taught him disciple-making happens best when clergy and laity work as partners. Clergy preach the gospel, administer the sacraments, and order congregational life in alignment with Christ’s mission in the world. Laity mentor one another in mission-shaped discipleship. This means that pastoral ministry is the work of the whole people of God.
The third annual Wesleyan Leadership Conference will focus on the important practice of sharing pastoral power. Disciple-making is the shared work of clergy and laity guided by the Holy Spirit.
Dr. David Lowes Watson is this year’s conference teacher. Dr. Watson is an elder in The United Methodist Church. He has years of experience as a pastor and seminary professor. David is the author of Forming Christian Disciples: The Role of Covenant Discipleship and Class Leaders in the Congregation, Covenant Discipleship: Christian Formation Through Mutual Accountability, Class Leaders: Recovering a Tradition, and God Does Not Foreclose.
The third annual Wesleyan Leadership Conference promises to be a time of rich learning, small group conversation, reflection, prayer and worship. Thursday and Friday will include plenary presentations in the morning by the conference speaker, Dr. David Lowes Watson. Afternoons will feature presentations from practitioners of Wesleyan disciple-making. You will hear from lay and clergy leaders from large and mid-size congregations and how they are sharing pastoral power to form disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
We will also hear from David Worthington, manager of the New Room, the first Methodist meeting house, in Bristol, England. Mr. Worthington will speak about the development of shared leadership through the early Methodist class meeting and the ministry of the class leader.
Each day will include morning and afternoon breaks, times for table conversation, and an extended mid-day break that will give you time for lunch, a leisurely walk, and conversation with friends. The evenings will be free time for you to enjoy Nashville.
Pre-Conference Covenant Discipleship Workshop
Wednesday, October 31, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Workshop Leader: Dr. Steven Manskar, Director of Wesleyan Leadership
This workshop will cover the basics of Covenant Discipleship groups, what they are, how they work, and where they fit in the mission of the church. You will learn about the General Rule of Discipleship, how to write a covenant, and how to introduce Covenant Discipleship groups to your congregation.
The pre-conference workshop is for leaders who are interested in learning about Covenant Discipleship for the first time. It will also be a good refresher for those with Covenant Discipleship experience.
The cost of the pre-conference workshop is only $20.
About the Speaker
David Lowes Watson is a retired Elder in the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. A native of England, he was educated at Oxford University (M.A.), Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (M.Div.), and Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (Ph.D.).
He served as pastor to congregations in the Illinois Great Rivers and North Carolina Conferences, and served as Executive Secretary for Covenant Discipleship and Christian Formation at the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church. He taught at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX as the McCreless Professor of Evangelism, and at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC as Professor of Theology and Congregational Life and Mission. He concluded his active ministry as Director of the Office of Pastoral Formation for the Nashville Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church, and for three years following his retirement served as Interim Senior Minister at West End United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN. He also taught as Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and The University of the South School of Theology, Sewanee, TN.
He has written extensively in the fields of Methodist history and theology, evangelism, and congregational life and mission. His books include Accountable Discipleship, The Early Methodist Class Meeting, Class Leaders: Recovering a Tradition, and God Does Not Foreclose. He has written curriculum resources for The United Methodist Church, including the New Testament studies in Troublesome Bible Passages. He was the founding editor of the Covenant Discipleship Quarterly and the Journal of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education, of which he is a past President. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Bicentennial Edition of The Works of John Wesley and the Board of Directors of Eden Theological Seminary.