Close to 300 large churches in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church have participated in the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ) revitalization process. Are you aware of a new FCJ process designed especially for small churches?
FCJ-Impact, designed for churches averaging 70 or fewer in weekly worship attendance, guides a church on how to thrive in its “tomorrows” instead of hoping to just survive them.
Eight UM churches in the Kokomo area are just completing a pilot run of FCJ-Impact. Participant Evan Strong, pastor of Bunker Hill UMC, writes of his experience:
“This journey has blessed me. To be honest, in the beginning I was dreading giving up my Saturdays, but once we got started, I knew it was going to be worth every second. I would take this Fruitful Congregation Journey again!
“FCJ-Impact has taught me new ways to spread God’s love to people who may otherwise have never experienced it. I’ve learned to change (modify) and add to what we do and would like to do within our church without disrupting the entire congregation. I will miss our meetings, but know our church will continue to apply everything we have learned.
“As a clergy member, I see FCJ-Impact empowering for the laity. It has given my laity confidence that they can be effective ministers too.”
Although done over an 18-month period, FCJ-Impact involves nine Saturday learning sessions where teams from participating churches come together with an FCJ facilitator-coach. Each local church is required to bring a significant number of lay people to each session– 20% of its congregation’s average worship attendance. With such a large number of leaders from the congregation participating, the church is much more likely to apply the concepts and use the tools back home.
FCJ-Impact is beginning to expand. Rev. Randy Anderson, Associate DS for the Southwest District, says that over 60 participants from five of his district’s churches gathered earlier this month at St. Peter’s UMC in Posey County to begin their FCJ-Impact journey. He is anticipating another group to begin in another part of the district.
The group began their journey focusing on the alignment of vision and mission. Participants shared their ideas and experiences, and then prepared a ministry action plan to work on in their local settings over the next two months.
Rev. Jeff Newton of Kokomo reflecting on his experience participating in the pilot group of churches said: “This experience has transformed the five churches I lead. We have new direction, vision, and most of all HOPE!” Praise God!
For more information about FCJ-Impact visit Church Development’s website.
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development