As mentioned earlier, the conference’s Church Development team is convinced that we can’t plant our way out of our decline, that it will require us both to plant churches and revitalize our existing ones. To help revitalize our existing congregations, Church Development is using a process called the Fruitful Congregation Journey. This three-step process helps a church more effectively carry out its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
The first step is a Shared Learning Experience, where teams from each participating church meet together for training sessions. In Step 2, churches undergo a complete assessment. This assessment identifies each church’s strengths, concerns, and then prescribes next-steps to address each of the concerns. Larger churches will have five prescriptions, smaller churches three. Each church then votes on whether or not to implement these next steps. Those who vote “yes” then move on to Step 3 where they implement the prescriptions with the help of a coach.
In 2010, FCJ began with large churches, churches averaging over 100 in weekly worship. In 2012, a second track was added for churches averaging between 50 and 100. So far, 168 Indiana United Methodist churches have participated in the process, over 40% of the churches averaging 100 or more! Two new Step 1 groups are forming in 2013–one for small churches and one for larger churches. Contact your district superintendent immediately if you’d like your church to be considered.
Although it is still early to know what impact this process is having on our churches, we do have some initial data. Fourteen of the twenty churches that went on to Step 3 experienced an increase in their worship attendance, and eight of these had been in decline prior to FCJ.
Again, Church Development anticipates that once enough of our Indiana United Methodist churches go through FCJ, we will begin to see more effective and fruitful congregations. Don’t miss out!
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development