Moving Forward with HoPE

September 18, 2023

Much has changed, and much is changing in The United Methodist Church. 

Anticipating sweeping changes in our denomination's structure and operations at every level, we are embarking on a mission firmly rooted in discipleship and transformation, all while embracing the promise of HōPE that guides us forward.

Like all mainline denominations today, United Methodist conferences and jurisdictions are facing the need to make dramatic adaptations from past ways of operating. A convergence of factors—declining congregational membership, the evolution of communication channels, remote work environments, virtual gatherings, and ever-evolving mission opportunities—has ushered in a new era where the conventional ways of doing things no longer suffice in carrying out God's divine work.
Amid so much ecclesial, cultural, and economic change, the Bishop and Extended Cabinet have identified the need for a planning and implementation process to create a flexible, agile operational system that can adapt quickly to the known and unknown ministry opportunities that lie ahead.   

John Wimberly
To accomplish this, The Louisiana Conference has enlisted the expertise of John Wimberly, an experienced church consultant, to help us think about the future organizationally (conference structure, staff design, governance system, etc.). He has done similar work with Great Plains and Mountain Sky Conferences.  He recently finished a similar job with Central, North, and Northwest Texas Conferences. 

His approach centers on the art of listening, engaging in interviews and focus groups to glean insights into people's perceptions of our current systems and their aspirations for the future. The ultimate goal is to articulate a clear and concise mission statement that will guide our pivotal decisions and strategies, aligning our organizational structure and operations with our mission. 
This process will be widely accessible to the Conference and will take place exclusively over ZOOM; requiring no transportation.

Everyone is encouraged to find a time slot that best works for them; you can find those slots and book your time by clicking here

Book Your Time Now

Wimberly will lead a series of 11 virtual 90-minute focus groups. These sessions are carefully designed to engage clergy and members from all corners of the Conference, seeking their perspectives on future needs and operational models.

John’s focus will be on two key questions:
  • What do you appreciate most about the Conference, both past and present?
  • Five years from now, what would have to happen for you to deem the new structural and organizational system a success? 

Wimberly will also interview the Conference staff, District Superintendents, District Administrative assistants, key stakeholders within the Conference, and leaders of various boards and committees. Wimberly will be available virtually to explain/present the report and answer questions, as needed, and will consult with the Bishop as needed about implementing recommendations.
This is a fantastic opportunity to have your voice heard. Let us march forward in this time of change and transition with HōPE!
Bishop Delores J. Williamston

His efforts will culminate in a comprehensive report with recommendations and options for shaping a conference organizational system and staffing that aligns harmoniously with our mission.

Together, we embark on this HōPEful journey, ready to embrace change with open hearts and unwavering faith. The future of The United Methodist Church shines brilliantly on our horizon, guided by the beacon of HōPE and transformation.

Bishop Delores J. Williamston says Wimberly's work will culminate in a comprehensive report, providing recommendations and options for a conference organizational system that harmoniously aligns with our vision and mission.

"I've worked with John before," Bishop Williamston said. "And he has consulted with many other United Methodist Church conferences in our connection. His approach is centered on listening and engaging with as many people as possible. As you know, the landscape of faith and ministry is shifting, and it's essential that we adapt. This is a fantastic opportunity to have your voice heard. Let us march forward in this time of change and transition with HōPE for the journey with open hearts, unwavering faith, and trust in God as disciples of Jesus Christ as he lights our way! I thank you all in advance for your spirit of cooperation in these hope-filled times in The United Methodist Church!"

Book Your Time Now

Book Soon! There are limited slots, and they will fill up quickly, so don't delay! Remember - these sessions are held virtually, over ZOOM.


Meet John Wimberly

John served congregations for 38 years, thirty of those years at Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. John’s quest for continuing personal, spiritual and professional growth led him to complete a PhD in systematic theology and an Executive MBA program. The latter program generated a sense of call to highlight the need for good business practices in the business side of a congregation’s life. He wrote and leads seminars on his highly praised book, The Business of the Church: The Uncomfortable Truth that Faithful Ministry Requires Effective Management. He consults with congregations on issues such as the creation and implementation of strategic plans, congregational growth, and the empowering use of endowments.

Philosophy of Practice

My experience in congregational ministry and as a consultant suggests that strategic plans are essential to faithful, effective ministry. The creation of a plan helps a congregation develop a consensus about who it is and where it wants to go. In the planning process, core theological values are made explicit in ways that help a congregation better understand what motivates its vision for ministry. The creation of goals and strategies help align a congregation’s staff, volunteer, financial, and building resources with its vision. Many churches have had disappointing experiences with strategic planning. Often there is a lot of excitement in the planning phase, which then dissipates before implementation. One of my strengths is helping a congregation move from the planning phase to implementation. When done properly, the implementation phase can be far more exciting than the planning phase.

I am committed to congregational growth. The universe expands, living organisms grow, and I believe that congregations can expand and grow, as well. For thirty years, I was pastor of a congregation that evolved from a membership in which about 80% of the members were over the age of 65 to one in which 65% were under the age of 45. I love helping congregations envision how they can grow. Even more, I love helping them plan and implement the strategies that lead to growth.

Strategic Planning

I am convinced that Moses, Jesus, and Paul all had strategic plans. They were probably sketched out in the sand after a hard day of work. But strategic plans, evaluated daily, they were. Congregations need strategic plans as well. I welcome the opportunity to work with congregations of all sizes as they create and implement strategic plans.

Congregational Growth

I consider myself an encouraging presence who has studied and practiced the art of congregational growth. My advice about specific growth strategies is not as valuable as the fact that I ministered in a congregation that some in our denomination were ready to close, saying that it was “beyond hope.” Keeping hope alive through a growth process is probably the most important and challenging part of the transformation from a stagnant or declining congregation to one that is growing in various ways.


For reasons I don’t really understand, I have come to know more about management than I ever wanted to know! I opted to do an MBA as a mid-career continuing education program. I learned so many things that I should be been taught in seminary about managing the life of a congregation. What started as an academic program ended up as a calling.

I can help congregations with financial, building, and personnel management. A lot of my research comes from the corporate world. However, it has direct application to the business life of a congregation. Finding the links between successful management in business, secular organizations, and congregations helps congregations become more effective in their mission.

Systems Analysis

I was blessed to become friends with Rabbi Edwin Friedman while he was the rabbi of a Reconstructionist congregation in the same building in which I was an associate pastor of a Presbyterian congregation. I use his systems theory approach to help congregations, staff, and staff members break out of highly individualistic approaches to understanding problems and possibilities. Whether I am talking about planning, growth, or management, I am using systems theory as my foundation.

Found an issue with this page? Click here to let us know.