To Bishop Robert Schnase of the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the local church is the place “where the action is.” For more than 20 years, Schnase lived and worked there, pastoring congregations in south Texas.

Elected bishop in 2004, Schnase now has several organizational layers between him and the edge where church and world meet -- district superintendents, conference staff, pastors and laity.

“As bishop, I have to find my satisfaction in the satisfaction and success and fruitfulness of other people’s work,” he says. “I have to figure out how to feed congregations, encourage pastors and be involved in the development of pastoral and lay leadership…and then find my satisfaction from this third-row seat.”

Schnase is the author of three books from Abingdon Press, including his most recent work, “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” Published in 2007, “Five Practices” frames what churches and their followers must practice to become fruitful: radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission, and service and extravagant generosity.