Stepping into the Gap


by Sally O. Langford I easily picture vital local churches. I visualize healthy congregations, whose leaders and members are eager to grow in their love for God and others, to be witnesses to their faith, and to use their gifts and resources to serve the global community. At the same time, I see that many local churches are struggling to be vital in the midst of changing demographics, declining finances, shrinking resources, and unengaged members. How can clergy leaders faithfully and effectively lead local churches from where they are now to where God is calling them to be? Susan-Beaumont200Susan Beaumont can show us a way to bridge that gap. It is tempting to feel discouraged, even powerless, when confronted by the gap between current reality and God’s desired vitality. And yet, the gap represents a leadership opportunity from God. God is calling us to step into the gap to help local churches move from where they are to where God wants them to be. Susan will give us the skills to mobilize our people to tackle the tough challenges.  She will teach us how to lead in the midst of conflict and influence others appropriately. The Reverend Susan Beaumont, an experienced consultant and coach, will lead a leadership development conference for WNCC clergy on October 6-7, 2015 at St. Luke’s UMC in Hickory. For interested clergywomen, Susan will lead a morning session on the particular leadership challenges of clergywomen on October 8. Two years ago, I participated in Susan’s leadership development conference, “Leading Adaptive Change.” The experience was for me mind altering and life changing! I learned that leadership is an activity of choice. Susan reminded me that the old ways of doing things aren’t working. She taught me how to identify underlying challenges in my own ministry setting and then showed me how to enlist people to address those challenges. Thanks to Susan, I made an action plan for continued growth as a leader. I’m not yet the perfect leader, but thanks to Susan Beaumont, I am leading. You too can learn from Susan Beaumont. I invite you to put on your calendar Susan Beaumont’s leadership training in October. In October, you can step aside from the busyness of your normal ministry routine and gain rich, practical insights into your own leadership challenges and opportunities. Registration will open at on July 15. The two day event is $50 and includes registration, snacks, and lunch both days. Hotel rooms are being held in the Hickory area, and information will be available in July. For no extra charge, clergywomen are invited to attend a morning session with Susan on Thursday, October 8. Susan Beaumont can inspire us to step boldly into the gap, where we will exercise leadership for the sake of God’s work in the WNCC. EVENT DETAILS

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


  • Resources
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.