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Connections across the Dakotas: Emergence, what’s next?

By: Rev. Kermit Culver, Northwest District Superintendent, Doreen Gosmire, director of communication, and Dave Stucke, communication associate

Moving from the convergent time of the 1950s and 1960s through the divergent times in which the church now exists, we must begin to answer the question—what’s next? What will emerge from the new thing that God is seeking to birth through our United Methodist Church?

What will a church look like to thrive in the emergent future? Rev. Kermit Culver, Northwest District Superintendent, shares elements of an effective, emergent church. 

Questions, not answers—In the future emergent church, “pat” answers will be replaced with an embrace of ambiguity, anxiety, and questions that don’t need or can’t even be answered. Liminality— an era which finds congregations betwixt and between a known past and an undefined future, demands a level of comfort with the unknown, as a sign of faith, not fear.

Learning not losing—In the future emergent church, winning, and losing will be replaced with continual learning. Even in places where success is present, planning and learning for future and greater effectiveness will replace the need to preserve and continue current practices. When failures happen, learning happens faster.

Doing life not playing church—In the future emergent church, the value of sharing life together will be a higher value than fulfilling some traditional, familial, or guilty obligation to meet religious expectations.

Going out not coming in—In the future emergent church going out to do mission with people in need, will replace the expectation that people in need will come into us to find what we have predetermined they need. Or come in to affirm what we have already determined that they need to believe. Coming in will be a by-product of our going out, not the other way around.

Shared leadership not dictated systems—In the future emergent church, all leadership will be flat-lined and equally shared. Spiritual giftedness will be utilized to determine roles and responsibilities. Rewards will only be given to people and processes that produce continually changing lives. All systems will be fluid and flexible to allow God to mold, adapt, and utilize people’s fullest potential to reach maximum effectiveness. 


Kingdom priorities, not personal preferences—In the future emergent church, all personal, church traditions, and even denominational preferences will be replaced by the Kingdom priorities of introducing all people to the process of becoming Jesus followers, involving all people in fulfilling the mission of Jesus, and including all people into the connected life of love and service with Jesus.

A non-anxious presence, not ever-present “savior”—In the future emergent church, the expectation that pastors and other leaders are expected to be an ever-present “savior,” meeting all our human or spiritual needs, will be replaced by followers of Jesus who are confident practitioners of non-anxious presence. Followers who model and lead people to desire the real savior, Jesus Christ.

Collaboration, not a competition—In the future emergent church, doing ministry alone in a silo, will be replaced with creative collaborations with other churches, entities, organizations, and institutions that share the same values, passion, and mission to make our communities better.

“What’s next: Emergence” will take place on January 16, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Legacy UMC in Bismarck, North Dakota, or you can join virtually. Spend a day praying, studying scripture, discussing, and creating a sermon series that will address some of our hopes for our church.

Leave with a sermon series that includes series title, individual sermon titles, texts, illustrations, the main point, and preaching ideas. Graphics will be created and shared. It is suggested that participants read Gil Rendle’s book; Quietly Courageous, before the “Emergence” event

View all the details here. Download a flyer about the event here.


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000