Increasing pastoral and congregational effectiveness is no small feat. For over 40 years, God has led IGC through a difficult mission in an ever-changing Church; this mission requires a talented, dynamic team. It is with great excitement that IGC welcomes Claude Kayler to the team as Chief Ministry Officer. In his new role, Claude will work with the IGC board and staff to develop and grow relationships across the Southeastern Jurisdiction that will allow IGC to continue to joyfully carry out its mission. He will also conduct in-depth research on IGC’s current commitment to its mission to improve the services it provides to ministry leaders across the UMC. We sat down with Claude to say “welcome” and to get to know him a little better. Keep reading to learn about the newest member of the IGC team and how he plans to use his spiritual gifts to serve those who serve God.
Intentional Growth Center: Tell us a bit about your Christian journey and how it led you to the Intentional Growth Center.
Claude Kayler: Although I grew up in the home of a United Methodist pastor, my personal commitment to Christ came at a beach retreat the summer after I graduated from high school. A group called the Scandinavian Caravan joined us on this retreat. God used these young Methodists from Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark to capture my attention and draw me into a close, personal relationship. The next summer I participated in this exchange program as one of the Americans who traveled to Scandinavia to share with the Methodist churches there. It was my first time to travel overseas and to participate in cross-cultural Christian ministry — I was hooked. Soon after, I attended a large student missions conference and it was there that I began to discern a call to full-time Christian service. My first goal was to go into overseas missions. The summer between my junior and senior years of college I did volunteer mission work with World Relief Refugee Services in Chicago. I went to seminary with full intentions of becoming a missionary but, as it turned out, I was given an opportunity to start a new church in Charlotte, North Carolina. My nine years as founding pastor of Good Shepherd UMC were some of the most exciting times of my life. In the process of developing a new church, I discovered a passion for developing people through teaching, education, leadership training and spiritual formation. This passion — as well as my original passion for international missions — has been with me throughout my years in ministry. During the current annual conference year, I took a sabbatical from pastoral ministry to pursue these passions. Last fall, I taught theology students at a new United Methodist college in Tanzania, East Africa. This winter, I taught church leaders in Cambodia. In addition, I’ve used this time to pursue training in church consulting and staff team-building. During my sabbatical, my wife Lorie and I have lived in our house at Lake Junaluska. It was here that I became aware of the IGC’s search for a Chief Ministry Officer. Because of my interest in education and training, it seemed like a great fit. I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity.
IGC: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role at IGC?
CK: My goal is to help IGC determine the best way to fulfill its mission in the current context. IGC’s mission is to increase pastoral and congregational effectiveness; this mission is vital and it is clear. What may not be so clear is exactly how this mission is to be carried out given the times we live in. I hope to work with the IGC board and staff to identify and develop programs that will address the needs of church leaders in this rapidly changing, post-modern post-Christendom world.
IGC: How do you hope to use your spiritual gifts in your role as Chief Ministry Officer?
CK: My number one spiritual gift is teaching; I come alive when God uses me to help others learn. I also enjoy collaborating with others — perhaps that’s the spiritual gift of encouragement. I hope to use these gifts of teaching and encouragement to work with the IGC board and staff in an atmosphere of collaborative teamwork and ongoing learning as we identify and develop programs that help church leaders learn the skills they need to minister in the twenty-first century.
IGC: What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
CK: My favorite Bible verse is found in the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The prodigal is coming home after squandering his inheritance. He’s poor, dirty, ragged and ashamed. The best he’s hoping for is that his father might give him a job as a servant. But then, “… while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Jesus shows us a God who runs to meet us. A God of compassion who can’t wait to welcome us home. I’ve experienced that many times and yet I need to be reminded of it every day. I pray that God will use my ministry to help others experience that embrace as well.
With a sense of excitement and an unwavering commitment to serving the church, IGC looks toward a vibrant future with Claude on the team. You can connect with Claude or another member of our team by phone at 800-482-1442 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.