USMB events equip local churches


LEAD ONE adds “tools to the toolbox”

By Myra Holmes

In an effort to strengthen local churches, USMB is offering a series of LEAD ONE events—one-day, regional events for leadership training and discussion.

“It’s our conviction that local church ministry people are best when they are spiritually healthy and growing,” says Ed Boschman, USMB executive director. “This event helps with that.”

LEAD ONE events are scheduled next week in the Southern District Conference: Feb. 25 at Memorial Road MB Church, Edmond, Okla., and Feb. 26 at Koerner Heights MB Church, Newton, Kan. Events are scheduled in April for the Latin American MB (LAMB) district and the Central District Conference (CDC) and in May for the North Carolina District Conference.

In the last year and a half, at least 10 LEAD ONE events have served between 250 and 350 people. Don Morris, director of Mission USA, the church planting and renewal arm of USMB, says the LEAD—Leadership Education And Development—events are designed to provide “new tools for the leadership toolbox.”

LEAD ONE is not only for pastors, but also for all church staff and volunteer ministry leaders: pastors, associate pastors, elders, trustees, deacons, children’s ministry leaders, small group leaders—“anybody that has any kind of leadership role,” says Morris.

The hope is that congregations will send a team of key leaders to the event nearest them.

“LEAD ONE is built on teamwork; it’s not built just on pastors,” says Morris.

He notes that pastors often have access to other, excellent resources, but it’s often difficult for a single attendee to share the learning and vision with a larger team. In contrast, as church teams attend LEAD ONE together, it provides opportunity for greater ownership, perhaps sparking discussion in the van on the way home or inspiring new cooperative efforts.

Morris also notes that LEAD ONE is not an attempt to duplicate those other seminars or conferences available to pastors: “This is for us; it’s for Mennonite Brethren.”

LEAD ONE events are designed to return to a given region every six months or so. As teams return again and again, they gain new tools. “It’s adding a hammer this time, adding a screwdriver next time,” Morris says. “It’s adding those things that make a difference.”

LEAD ONE is part of a larger USMB church health strategy, which also includes LEAD Labs, brief seminars designed to tackle a specific topic or issue; CHAT church health surveys; and LEAD Coaching, a network of trained MB coaches for life-on-life impact for pastors and leaders.

Before USMB rolled out this new set of resources, church health was addressed primarily through intensive consultations with only a handful of churches each year, and USMB desired to more effectively invest in existing churches.

“We started to dream about ways we could truly add value to our existing churches,” says Morris.

The resulting package of resources, he says, “has potential to be much more effective for a multitude of churches on a regular basis.”

Boschman says, “As we resource people for ministry health and ministry strategy, it can’t help but ramp up the impact and the effectiveness of those ministries. If we can get that done for several staffers and ministry leaders at any local church, we’re confident that ministry impact will be increased.”

Each LEAD ONE event includes “soul food” from a district minister or local pastor to keep the focus on God, five or six presentations on a variety of topics and plenty of time for interaction.

Topics are broad enough to apply to many areas of ministry. A session on evaluating ministry effectiveness, for example, might be equally helpful for a youth worker or a senior pastor. A session on effectively leading a team could help both a worship leader and a children’s ministry leader.

“The topics covered aren’t specific to one ministry,” says Morris. “We want them to transcend all types of ministry.”

Presenters are a mix of local church leaders, USMB staff and partners and guest speakers. Each has expertise in their area of ministry. Boschman might talk about casting vision, or Jon Wiebe, president and CEO of MB Foundation, might give some practical financial advice. For an upcoming LEAD ONE in the Southern District Conference, former NFL player Todd Franz will speak on teamwork.

“We’re looking for excellence,” says Morris. “We want LEAD ONE to have a lot of take-away.”

In addition to practical sessions, LEAD ONE offers ample time for interaction between attendees, through informal mingling time, discussion in both large and small groups and as church teams.

And that, says Morris, is a key benefit of LEAD ONE. “We can help each other,” he says.

Boschman adds that LEAD ONE is an example of U.S. Mennonite Brethren functioning as one family: “It’s our own family encouraging, helping, inspiring and resourcing one another.”

The events are free; attendees are asked to contribute $15 to the host church to cover lunch and refreshments. USMB receives no funds from these events, and presenters are not paid an honorarium. “We’re trying to keep the cost at a minimum,” says Morris.

Morris welcomes input from those who would like to help organize or host an event in their area, as well as from those who have ideas for topics or presenters. Email him at

For more information on specific upcoming events, contact Lori Taylor at


Photo 1: LEAD ONE events include opportunities for church leadership teams to talk together about the information shared. Photo from Don Morris.

Photo 2: Local pastors, such as Chris Eidse of the Boone (NC) MB Church as well as USMB staff and ministry partner leaders are among the resource speakers for LEAD ONE events.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here