Connection Blueprint

Connection  Blueprint is an innovative hands-on practical learning process designed to help congregations maximize the impact of Jesus’ redemptive and healing love in neighborhoods and congregations. It builds on the foundational value that developing relationships of mutuality with our neighbors will change communities and congregations.  This 12-18 month journey gathers congregational teams of lay and clergy leaders from across the conference into a dynamic learning community. Together, they learn and practice tools designed to assist each congregation to implement transformative ministry within their unique context, thereby allowing them to realize the dreams God has given them. The Rev. John Edgar provides the primary leadership throughout the learning process.



Maumee Watershed District

  • Oregon Christ UMC
  • Hayes UMC, Freemont

Northwest Plains  District

  • Wapakoneta UMC

Miami Valley District

  • Northridge UMC
  • Grace UMC, Springfield

Ohio River Valley District

  • Gaines UMC

Shawnee Valley District

  • Walnut Street UMC

Foothills District

  • First UMC, Zanesville

Capitol Area South District

  • Church for All People
  • Westside Cluster

Capitol Area North District

  • Epworth UMC, Marion
  • Prospect Street UMC, Marion
  • Magnetic Springs UMC
  • Church of the Good Shepherd
  • Maize Manor UMC
  • Asbury North UMC
  • Broad Street UMC
  • Whitehall UMC


  • April 25, 2017, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Church of the Good Shepherd Initial gathering with Bishop Palmer and the pastors of the participating churches.

  • May 20, 2017, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Church for All People Training session with pastors and lay persons

  • July 22, 2017, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Marion Epworth Training session with pastors and lay persons

  • August 26, 2017, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Training session with pastors and lay persons at Whitehall UMC

  • September 23, 2017, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Training session with pastors and lay persons at Maize Manor UMC

  • October 20-23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The pastor and lay persons from each church are invited to participate in the Congregational and Community Development in a Diverse World conference sponsored by the United Methodist Church for All People
  • November 18, 2017 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Training session with pastors and lay persons at Broad Street UMC
  • January 27, 2018, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Training session with pastors and lay persons at Northridge UMC

  • February 24, 2018, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Training session with pastors and lay persons at Prospect Street UMC, Marion.

  • March 24, 2018, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Training session with pastors and lay persons at Asbury North UMC, Columbus. 

  • April 28, 2018, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Training session with pastors and lay persons at Church of the Good Shepherd UMC, Columbus. 

Resources for Participants

Building the Plane as You Fly It

Building Relationships of Mutuality


  • Radical Hospitality
  • Building Relationships of Mutuality


  • Participants will be able to identify and define the basic elements of radical hospitality
  • Participants will acknowledge and further develop their individual capacity to build relationships of mutuality
  • Participants will identify opportunities to build relationships with members of their community
  • Participants will compare assets and opportunities to evaluate potential intersections for building relationships.


  • Hebrews 13:1-2
  • 1 Samuel 17


  • Opening Worship based on Hebrew 13


  • Video: Building the Plane as You Fly
  • Building relationships of mutuality


  • Devotional “Five Smooth Stones” – 1 Samuel 17
  • Presentation on using existing church programs and community activities as opportunities for building relationships of mutuality
  • Teams complete the Inventory of church usage by non-church members
  • Wrap up


  • Homework: connect with people who are already in your building, but not connected to your church
  • Complete the usage inventory
  • Develop strategies to enhance hospitality
  • Implement some of these strategies
  • Prepare to share progress at the next gathering.

Living in the Divine Economy of Abundance


  • Humans live in a Divine Economy of Abundance
  • All effective ministry is asset based


  • Participants will embrace the Biblical concept that they live in a divine economy of abundance
  • Participants will reject a mindset of scarcity
  • Participants will learn basic principles of Asset Based Community Development
  • Participants will engage in an experience of mapping some of their personal assets
  • Participants will begin to explore ways to develop asset based ministries that generate relationships of mutuality


  • John 6


  • Opening worship based on Jesus feeding the multitude in John 6
  • Review of homework from the first session
  • Case study of living inside the Divine Economy of Abundance
  • Presentation on the principles of Asset Based Community Development
  • Church teams will deconstruct an existing ministry into its essential assets and resources


  • Asset mapping experience
  • Initial strategies for developing asset based ministries
  • Sharing of examples
  • Wrap up


  • Homework: Use the Connection Blueprint tool to move through the process of developing an asset based ministry that builds authentic relationships of mutuality with non-church members

Touching Grace


  • Grace is an English translation of the Greek word “Charis” which means “gift”. In the early church, Charis was the term used to describe any good gift from God.
  • The Connection Blueprint in each church comes alive as relationships of mutuality become the bridge for persons from the community to participate in asset based ministries where they touch grace.
  • Expanding cultural competencies and addressing implicit bias are essential components of developing healthy relationships where people authentically touch grace.
  • Direct services programs and ministries that introduce people to God’s grace can be one and the same.


  • Participants will learn the Greek term Charis and understand its root meaning is gift.
  • Participants will explore the Biblical concept that any good gift from God is grace.
  • Participants will learn about asset based ministries that enable people to touch grace.
  • Participants will learn to use the Wesleyan concepts of prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace to refine ministries to better allow people to touch grace.
  • Participants will assess the effectiveness of their ministries in helping people touch grace.
  • Participants will begin to develop plans/blueprints for new ministries to ensure people in their community are touching grace.
  • Participants will improve their cultural competency and face their own implicit bias.


  • John 1:14-18
  • Luke 6:17-19


  • Opening worship
  • Review of homework from the second session
  • Presentation on the Biblical concept of “Touching Grace”
  • Stories and illustrations of ministries where people touch grace
  • Interactive learning experience in which people share their own experiences of touching grace
  • Church teams will review their local ministries and assess their effectiveness in touching grace


  • Presentation on cultural competency
  • Learning experience on implicit bias
  • Connection Blueprint resources will be provided for church teams to design ministries that ensure community folks touch grace.
  • Wrap up


  • Homework: Use the Connection Blueprint resource tools to envision and develop asset based ministries that enable people in the community to touch grace.



The Power of Partnerships


  • Partnerships improve, expand and transform ministries.
  • Partnerships are grounded in relationships of mutuality.
  • Partnerships emerge and flourish as people and groups combine their assets.


  • Participants will appreciate the role partnerships can have in developing ministries.
  • Participants will learn how to initiate partnerships based on assets rather than needs.
  • Participants will be introduced to a broad range of potential religious and secular partners.
  • Participants will identify churches, businesses, organizations and government entities that may become partners with their local congregation.
  • Participants will name and learn to articulate the strengths/assets their church has to offer to partners.


  • Acts 11:19-30


  • Opening worship
  • Review of homework from the third session
  • Presentation on forming asset based partnerships
  • Stories and illustrations from ministries of the participating churches


  • Church teams will develop a brief statement describing key assets they bring to potential partnerships
  • Role play activity on how to approach potential partners
  • Connection Blueprint resources will be provided for church teams to use to identify partners and draw them into joint ministries
  • Teams share emerging ideas
  • Wrap up


  • Homework: Use the Connection Blueprint resource tools to continue to envision and cultivate asset based partnerships.

The Journey from Transactions to Relationships


  • Participants will engage in mutual sharing, learning and teaching
  • Participants will reflect upon what brought people into the life of their congregation, and what makes new people stay
  • Participants will reflect on what makes it difficult to do the things that work
  • Participants will identify assets they can deploy to overcome barriers to relational mission
  • Participants will commit to at least one practice that will allow them to have more time for building relationships with people


  • 1 John 1: 1-7

Morning Session

  • Opening Worship
  • Sharing Case Studies
  • Receiving feedback

Afternoon Session

  • Preparing for February
  • Small Group Work
  • Facilitated conversation as a large group



Engaging the Whole Church


  • Participants will engage in mutual sharing, learning and teaching.
  • Participants will learn and offer strategies resulting in more local church members moving from transactions to relationships.
  • Participants will make decisions on next steps to engage congregational members.


  • Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-16

Morning Session

  • Opening Worship
  • Review of homework from January session
  • Strategies to engage more local church members in Connection Blueprint learnings

Afternoon Session

  • Design additional ways to share information throughout the congregations
  • Facilitated conversation as a large group
  • Preparing for March and April


Being the Church


  • Acts 4:32-35 (The Message)

Morning Session

  • Centering Worship
  • Review homework from February session
  • Local Church Connection Blueprint overview
  • Roleplay

Afternoon Session

  • Roleplay
  • Group reflections


PDF icon Unit 8 Being the Church705.32 KB
PDF icon Unit 8 Homework394.37 KB

In addition to the specific topic material covered in each unit, here are a list of books and internet resources that you may also find helpful.



Building Community from the Inside Out: A path toward finding and mobilizing a community’s assets. John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight

“Throughout more than 30 years of community organizing and community development work, Kretzmann and McKnight gathered the stories of residents who built stronger neighborhoods by focusing on their strengths instead of their deficiencies. “This book explains the practices and principles that guide asset-based community development.—Asset-Based Community Development Institute

The Power of Asset Mapping: How your congregation can act on its gifts.  Luther Snow

Learn tools you can use to identify the strengths and gifts around you that often get overlooked but can open up opportunities for action and change. Asset mapping is “experiential learning, volunteer mobilization, and positive inspiration, all wrapped in one.”—Luther Snow

Friendship at the Margins: Discovering mutuality in service and mission.  Christopher L. Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl

“When we befriend those on the margins of society by practicing hospitality and welcome, we create communities where righteousness and justice can be lived out. Heuertz and Pohl’s reflections offer fresh insight into Christian mission and what it means to be the church in the world today.”—Intervarsity Press

TOUCH: Pressing Against the Wounds of a Broken World.  Rudy Rasmus

Pastor Rudy and his wife, Juanita, experienced firsthand the transformative power of Jesus’ love. St John’s United Methodist Church was started to reach out to people who Jesus called the “least of these.” TOUCH is about the ministry of grace that changes lives daily. St John’s is now one of the most culturally diverse congregations in the country.—Excerpts from publisher

Additional Resources Asset-Based Community Development institute. This Website provides information and resources for understanding and engaging in asset based community development.  Luther Snow: Assets for the Good in Groups