This first exercise or engagement with our proposed strategic priorities for Iowa comes with a word image. I put the full document into a word cloud generator to see what we talk about the most and what that says about our work.
For this post… the words that stand out: conference, communities, ministry, development, transform, work, faith, disciple
Our document is fundamentally about how we as the Iowa Conference function… where we are going and how we are going to get there. So it is not surprising to see “conference” as a primary word.
The same goes for “communities.” We talk both about communities of faith and being more present in our communities throughout the proposal. There was an intentional effort to not limit conversation to local churches or congregations but to broaden our definition to include new and developing immigrant faith communities, Wesley Foundations, camps, and other places where discipleship happens… even if it isn’t in an officially chartered congregation.
So the second part of that term, “faith” also is prominent. But this word is also used in “bold steps of faith” and to lift up faithful people and to develop the faith of leaders and disciples.
The word “ministry” surprised me, although it probably shouldn’t have. In this proposal, we use the word in a lot of different ways, however… as a description of the activities we do (areas of ministry, the ministry of pastors, ministry with the poor), groups within the conference (Ministry Cabinet, School for Lay Ministry), but also as part of a description of place (rural ministry, ministry context). These describe what we are doing, how we are doing it, and where we are doing it.
When we aren’t using the word ministry, we are using the word “work” in this proposal. We even talk about the work of ministry! This phrase describes who will work with whom (congregations working with the poor, CFA working with the Cabinet) as well as what that work looks like (work of peace and justice, work of intentional faith development).
“Development” is a big part of our second priority – working to develop new and more effective leaders… both in terms of faith development, but also recognizing the need for asset-based community development. It is internal and external to our walk with Jesus. Development also shows up as we discern where new communities of faith can be developed.
Next, “transform.” This is the core of our document. Change. New life. Resurrection. This word captures transformation, transformational, transforming, transformed… you get the picture. And it is all through the document. Leaders who are transformed and transforming. Communities of faith that are transforming their neighborhoods. Our mission is to help transform the world.
Also not surprising, “disciple” makes a strong appearance. Our mission is also to make disciples. Whether we are talking about deepening our discipleship, making disciples, equipping leaders to disciple, or sending disciples into the world, this is a thread that runs through our proposal.