Energizing and Equipping Local Church Disciple Making and Faith Formation Systems

by Dr. Randy Wild*
During the past couple of years, I’ve been engaged in several conversations with local church leaders on a variety of subjects. One of the topics that seems to bubble up with fervent regularity is the future of the conference and our local churches, especially around the need for a systematic approach to disciple making and establishing faith formation as a life-long practice. The faith formation process needs to be developmentally appropriate for any age – from toddlers to our most seasoned citizens and everyone in between – and based on building a faith foundation strong enough to anchor someone no matter the situation or what stage of life they might find themselves. This need has also been confirmed by many of the local church prescriptions that come from the HCI consultation process. Basically, the “old days” of adding another bible study, mission opportunity or event to an already crowded church calendar and calling it successful disciple making are being proven to be much less fruitful than once believed.
To help address this issue, we introduced some resources to better equip our churches develop their own path of discipleship during the 2014 Annual Conference. Different workshops, such as Charting the Course, Creating a Discipling Process, The Wesleyan Way and Building a Discipleship Path, were all introduced and examined as different options for local churches to consider.
Following AC14, we continued to drill down on this issue via subsequent individual workshops over the fall and this spring. In those sessions, it became evident that churches wanted a dedicated resource to help them establish and grow their discipleship making systems. The repeated spoken need was for committed, conference-level team member to partner with churches looking to develop a systematic approach or process that offers lifelong faith formation. I am very happy to announce that as of July 1, we will be able to equip the local churches of the CTC with just such a dedicated resource and partner.
Meet the New Associate Director of Faith Formation
Rev. Amber Massingill has been appointed to the Central Texas Conference as the Associate Director of Faith Formation effective July 1, 2015. Amber brings a deep love and passion for spiritual formation, particularly with children and young people. She comes to us from Florida (she’s a native of Gainesville Fla, so the Texas heat and humidity shouldn’t phase her a bit) where she has pastored local churches for the past 14 years, including the last six in Miami.
Throughout her ministry and even back to her college years, her calling has been spiritual formation – whether it be in prayer, small groups or immersion experiences such as The Walk to Emmaus. Amber enjoys working with people of all ages and backgrounds, but feels especially called to nurture spiritual growth among children and youth. A favorite role in her current appointment is leading weekly Chapel for their active church preschool. Amber has served as a preacher for summer camp and as a mentor for her District Committee on Ministry. She is married to Paul, who is also an Elder in the United Methodist Church. (Paul has been appointed to the CTC as the director of the TCU Wesley Foundation. We’ll introduce you to him more fully following AC15, probably closer to the start of the fall semester.) Amber and Paul have two boys (ages 8 and 12) and a BIG puppy who all like to play outdoors as often as possible.
Amber received her Bachelor’s Degree in Religion and Political Science from Furman University in Greenville, SC and a Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity in Durham, NC. She was ordained a Full Elder in the Florida Conference in 2006.
But wait, there’s more!
While Amber’s arrival is fantastic and most anticipated, we are not done with sharing exciting news in the area of spiritual growth and development. I get to double dip and also announce the well-deserved promotion of Claire Condrey to the position of Coordinator of Youth Ministry for the CTC.
Claire joined our team about a year ago as the Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Missions after several very successful stints as a youth director. Soon after moving into that position, our director of Youth and Young Adults resigned. Claire had barely had time to learn where the water cooler was in the CTCSC before she was assuming the additional responsibilities for our entire youth ministry, including a very successful Mid-Winter Youth Retreat, continuing youth director lunches and gatherings, an accountability group and leading the Conference Council on Youth Ministry (CCYM). Basically, she has really been skillfully handling the responsibilities for nearly a year already.
Claire has a feel for how to partner and resource our youth directors and workers with youth in addition to a real passion for the spiritual and emotional development of our youth. This move will enable all the conference work with youth to be under the umbrella of the CCYM and led by a dedicated staff person. It will also enable us to increase the use of volunteer teams to work alongside the various task groups that have already been functioning so well in various components of our ministry with youth.
I could not be happier for the children and youth of our conference as well as those who work with and lead those children and youth. As dedicated staff, both Claire and Amber will be able to add additional support for these vital areas of ministry and more effectively establish, energize and equip systematic approach to disciple making and faith formation in our local churches
*Randy is the executive director for the CTC Center for Mission Support and conference secretary.  randywild@ctcumc.org