In Layman's Terms: Take from and add to our Local Church Toolbox

Todd Seifert


Kansas and Nebraska – when you place them together – create a fairly large parcel of land. In fact, if you put the two together, you have about 160,000 square miles. That’s huge!

My duties as the conference communications director have allowed me to see many parts of our two states. My most recent adventures took me to quaint – and active – panhandle town of Scottsbluff for the first time. I had the opportunity to talk to Matt, a young man who served me at a restaurant there. We talked about small-town life, his church and the long distances you can see in that part of the world.

Indeed, those wide-open spaces in northwest Nebraska provide some inspiration unlike any other place I’ve been before – acres upon acres of ranch land, crops and homesteads.
Providing inspiration is my topic for this edition of “In Layman’s Terms.” My topic marries this concept of inspiration with the vast area of the Great Plains Conference. I want to talk to you today about the Local Church Toolbox.

The toolbox is found on the Great Plains home page and takes you to a portal for 12 subjects that are important for a congregation to achieve and maintain vitality in its mission field – whether that mission field is an urban area like Wichita or a small town like Scottsbluff.

But this part of our website is really meant to be a giving-and-sharing area, a location where you can learn from others’ best practices and where you can share your success stories so others might learn from your experience, adapt it for their own use and then achieve some positive results for themselves. It’s a chance to leverage the many great minds and the many interactions we have with the Holy Spirit among 1,007 congregations and more than 200,000 members of The United Methodist Church in our two states.
Here’s how it works

Say you are looking for ideas on how to make more disciples in your mission field. You go to the Local Church Toolbox and click on “Making Disciples.” You see a subhead that says “Evangelism” and click on the link that promises “50 ways to take church to the community.”

Now you have ideas that you may not have thought of before to help you in your task. In this case, the 50 ways came from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, but perhaps the folks at a United Methodist Church in the panhandle had an idea, developed it and shared it for the benefit of other churches. Their effort could be read by, for example, folks at one of our churches in southeast Kansas, about 11 hours away by car.

Now, the efforts of one small-town church – by way of sharing something that brought it some success in reaching new people for Jesus – has helped another congregation. It’s yet another way for us to put our United Methodist connection to work.

So, I need to ask you all a favor. If your church is doing something you think is making a difference that fits into one of those toolbox categories, please go to that portal in the Local Church Toolbox and click “Submit your story.” We’ll review that idea in the conference office, format your story and post it for the benefit of everyone – especially those who do not yet know the love, peace and grace that comes with a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Let’s not keep our good ideas to ourselves. Share them with the people across Kansas and Nebraska. Let’s work together to make our churches stronger, our witness more vivid and help each other extend the love of Christ into the many mission fields of Kansas and Nebraska.
Todd Seifert is communications director for the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. He can be reached via phone at 785-414-4224, or via email at Opinions expressed are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Great Plains Annual Conference or the United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter, @ToddSeifert.