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Annual Conference

Workshops and Learning Opportunities

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WORKSHOPS AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

Equipping local churches to accomplish their mission is a key goal of the Annual Conference.  Learning opportunities will be available throughout the Annual Conference session Thursday and Friday.  In lieu of our traditional keynote Speaker, we will have a series of short “TED-talk-style” speakers on various topics relate to our common mission.  These will be available live as well as via livestream.  We will also have workshops and lunch-and-learns opportunities throughout the Thursday and Friday time.  See descriptions below.

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Thursday Workshops – 1:15 p.m.

Courageous Leadership – Having tough conversations or leading difficult meetings takes a lot of courage and can zap our emotional energy.  In this session, participants will learn to clarify for courage by asking five specific questions.  These questions help you and/or the teams you are leading to focus on the goal of the conversation, surface fears and check egos at the door.

Discipleship Tree unpacked – Discover/Develop/Deploy:  What is your “discipleship pathway”?  It’s a common question that often gets a blank stare.  In this workshop you will hear from leaders who give their best energy to the work of making disciples with strategies and methods that have been tested and developed over time.

The Vital Rural Church:  What does vitality look like in the rural church?  In this workshop, we’ll explore why rural churches should rethink their understanding of vitality, and what it means to be a vital rural church.  This workshop also explores the unique opportunities for leadership in the small membership, rural church, and how these churches differ from large congregations.

Welcoming our Neighbors – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  (Hebrews 13:2) Many of our communities are changing every day.  With growing immigrant and/or refugee populations we have a great opportunity to “entertain angels.”  Julie Rams Lagos from Bismarck Global Neighbors will help us explore how we can welcome and love our new neighbors.

Thursday Lunch and Learn Sessions – 12:15 p.m.

Living BIG (Boundaries, Integrity and Generosity) – Emotional health in ministry requires healthy boundaries, unfortunately boundaries have often been used as a form of disconnection rather than healthy connection. This workshop will help you develop 1-2 boundaries for healthy connection that allow you to walk in integrity while extending generosity toward yourself and others.  

Single-Board Governance Model - Get the right people on the right seats on the bus!  Learn how to streamline the administrative arm of church leadership.  Cutdown on time consuming committee meetings utilizing a single leadership team to manage the business functions of the church while freeing up those previously working on committees to focus on church ministry. 

The Rural Church as a Community Leader:  Rural congregations are uniquely positioned to be agents of transformation for their communities.  In this Lunch and Learn, we’ll explore the practical and theological ways that churches can live into this calling and share examples of meaningful work happening in rural communities across the country.

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Friday Workshops – 4:00 p.m.

Digital Discipleship and Ministry

With many people in our churches and communities spending more and more time online, is there a way for our churches to help them use that time to grow in their walk with Jesus? This conversation between digital ministry leaders from throughout the Dakotas Conference will explore how churches of all shapes and sizes can create opportunities to move their people from passive observers of online content to active participants in online discipleship. Presenters will share the heart behind digital ministry, practical considerations for churches, tried-and-true strategies, and examples of how digital ministries have helped people grow in their faith.

Discipleship Tree unpacked – Discover/Develop/Deploy:  What is your “discipleship pathway”?  It’s a common question that often gets a blank stare.  In this workshop you will hear from leaders who give their best energy to the work of making disciples with strategies and methods that have been tested and developed over time.

Welcoming our Neighbors – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  (Hebrews 13:2) Many of our communities are changing every day.  With growing immigrant and/or refugee populations we have a great opportunity to “entertain angels.”  Julie Rams Lagos from Bismarck Global Neighbors will help us explore how we can welcome and love our new neighbors.

Friday Lunch and Learn Sessions – 11:55 a.m.

Dismantling Racism:  In November 2021, there was a special called session of the North Central Jurisdiction.  Part of the time together included conversation around Dismantling Racism.  This included several powerful videos about experiences of clergy and laity as well as encouragement and challenge of ways to address Racism in our contexts.  We will use these videos and discussion starters as the basis for this lunch-n-learn time.

How Do We Decide: A Practical Toolkit – Ann Crews Melton unpacks her talk on grappling with difficult decisions to seek discernment as a community. Through stories and examples of building consensus, she will offer practical tools for facilitating a decision-making process that helps ensure all voices are heard and considered.

How investing can turn around a church:  Sheri Meister and Jeff Pospisil have worked with numerous churches that feel stuck and are usually struggling financially. They will share learnings and experiences from churches where their financial and operational investing gave them a renewed hope as well as a measure of success.

UMC

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