Strategic Direction


Discipleship Ministries’ vision is “to see a vital and vibrant church on fire to transform the world.” The Agency has recently completed a rigorous three-year process to create a more holistic, integrated and focused approach in assisting United Methodist leaders in their disciple-making efforts. Discipleship Ministries has identified three overarching strategic priorities.

The agency’s three strategic priorities are:

  1. An intentional discipleship system (or pathway) in every church rooted in our identity with Christ, focusing on explicitly anti-racist discipleship.
  2. Equipping churches to engage their communities, particularly those for whom the church has become irrelevant, recognizing a diverse mission field.
  3. Creating and lifting up local, contextual resources globally, working closely with the UMC ethnic plans, caucus groups, and other partners around the world.

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To carry out Discipleship Ministries’ vision and to fulfill the goals of the focus area it leads, three strategic priorities and core strategies guide the agency’s work:


  • Reorient and revamp our training efforts and redirect resources to emphasize the essential elements (core process) of an effective disciple-making system.
  • Convene strategic conversations with proven and effective practitioners to learn, listen, and to drive the creation of new resources and specialized training that responds directly to the needs of our stakeholders.
  • Cultivate and build 2-year covenant partnerships with annual conferences to develop a customized, comprehensive plan for training and resourcing its local church leaders.

ENGAGEMENT WITH PEOPLE currently outside the church.

  • Champion, resource, and support the denominational effort to re-evangelize the U.S. and reach more people, more young people, and more diverse people by creating new places for new people.
  • Communicate to stakeholders’ stories of impact that provide clear models of effective community engagement (evangelism) that emphasizes relationship building.
  • Develop, invest in, and deploy a comprehensive messaging campaign that emphasizes the “why” of disciple-making and encourages focus, energy, and effort in connecting with people outside the church.
  • Leverage the success lessons of new church community engagement – become brokers of knowledge - to drive innovation in teaching, learning, and contextual best practices.


  • Convene strategic conversations with central conference leaders for learning, and to develop resourcing that is contextually relevant and practically effective for the making of disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Grow and expand the capacity of the central conference publishing team network for developing contextual resources and making them available, affordable, and appropriate to local churches in the conferences in which the teams are located across the connection.
  • Bring the voice and contributions of central conference thought-leaders to the church-wide conversation about intentional discipleship systems through author support and a central conference publishing channel.

Each of these priorities has clear strategies that articulate how the priority will be achieved; and each reflects the current reality of the church and the shifting needs of the denomination.

Discipleship Ministries works from the principle of adaptive challenge by being “brokers of knowledge and conveners of strategic conversations.” By intentionally living into a wholistic approach to our ministry with church leaders we can better assist the denomination in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Based on these strategies, Discipleship Ministries:

  • Equips church planters who are starting new churches through an innovative series of resources, events, and initiatives.
  • Resources entrepreneurial clergy and lay leadership in existing local congregations to become vital, vibrant, and transformed.
  • Works with young people and their adult workers to bring them closer to the church and to God.
  • Publishes the world’s most widely read daily devotional (The Upper Room daily devotional guide).
  • Provides essential Christian resources to congregations in North America, Africa, the Philippines, and Europe.
  • Offers widely acclaimed online worship resources to millions of United Methodist worship leaders worldwide.
  • Leads, co-leads, and sponsors some of the most mission-critical training events in the denomination, such as the School of Congregational Development, Youth 2019, and the Children’s Ministry Forum.
  • Provides theological guidance to the denomination’s Sunday school and other types of official United Methodist curricula.