The Four Priorities of the Church

At the 2001 General Assembly, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) adopted the 2020 Vision, which contained four priorities that will guide the Church through the first two decades of the 21st century.
The Four Priorities are:

  • Becoming a Pro-reconciling/Anti-racist church
  • Formation of 1,000 new congregations by 2020
  • Transformation of 1,000 current congregations by 2020
  • Leadership development necessary to realize these new and renewed congregations

Becoming a Pro-reconciling/Anti-racist church

Reconciliation Ministry is the special ministry of the Church that fights the primary causes of racism in North America. Strides toward becoming a Pro-reconciling/Anti-racist Church were made with support from the Reconciliation Offering soon after the 2020 Vision was adopted.

The Pro-reconciliation/Anti-Racism Initiative was founded upon the need to make visible God’s beloved community. It invites the church to listen to the once silenced voices of its racial/ethnic communities, learn from their wisdom and gain insight from their leadership. It calls the church to discernment and prayer, study of the scriptures and reflection, dialogue and table fellowship. The true goal is to transform, strengthen and deepen the church’s spirituality, resulting in a community that understands its mission to be about bringing justice and salvation to the world.

The Pro-reconciliation/Anti-racism initiative has made steady progress. In 2007, Regions were urged to assume primary leadership in enabling congregational involvement in the work of racial reconciliation. In 2008, eight Regions of the Southeast Regional Fellowship called a minister to serve as minister of Reconciliation and Anti-racism Ministries.

Formation of 1,000 new congregations by 2020

The founders of the Stone-Campbell Movement were passionate about bringing new Disciples to the table. More Disciples congregations have originated in the decade beginning in 2000 than any decade in the Church’s history. In 2007, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) surpassed the halfway mark of its goal to establish 1,000 new churches by 2020.

The effort to establish 1,000 new congregations is supported by the Pentecost Offering, which is witness to the passion among the Disciples of Christ to start new churches. The offering is equally divided between the region in which the offering is received and general new church ministry.

Transformation of 1,000 current congregations by 2020

The priority to transform 1,000 congregations has received leadership and input from diverse sources, including pastors whose congregations are involved in transformation, staff persons from Disciples Home Missions, the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, Church Extension, and the College of Regional Ministers. A strong effort was launched to nurture this priority when a conference on congregational transformation took place in 2006, with participation from 32 of the Church’s 33 Regions.

Leadership development necessary to realize these new and renewed congregations

Ongoing development of appropriate and effective lay and ordained leadership is critical to the success of the other three priorities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Church desires to shape its leaders in the ways and reign of God. The values that the Church looks for in its leaders include an abiding faith, a yearning for justice, a spirit of unity in Jesus Christ, love for compassion and caring, a commitment for mission and outreach, and dedication to stewardship, among others.

There are ongoing efforts focusing on leader development throughout the Church on the congregational, Regional, and General ministry expressions. Fourteen colleges and universities and seven theological institutions are officially related to the Church and offer education for ministry and life from a Disciple foundation. Higher Education and Leadership Ministries has sought to develop new leaders through its “Leadership Fellows” program. HELM spreads the word about up and coming leaders in its “Tomorrow’s Leaders Today” publication. Disciples Home Missions is involved in leader development through Disciples Volunteering in partnership with Week of Compassion, Family and Children’s Ministries, Men’s Ministries, Women’s Ministries, and Youth and Young Adult Ministries.