A new group of Indiana United Methodist churches is registering to begin the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ) church revitalization process this fall. Now that 185 churches have been involved, is FCJ really making a significant difference?
Because only twenty churches have completed the nearly three-year process, it’s still difficult to determine the impact FCJ is making; however there is a lot of positive anecdotal evidence. Churches are reporting that they have more hope, they have direction, laity are feeling empowered, key changes are being made, a greater focus is being made on prayer and discipling those beyond the walls of the church.
Additionally, there are these positive signs:
1) Nearly 100% of churches that entered Step 1 last fall have chosen to go on to Step 2.
2) Only 4 out of 60 churches that have completed Step 2 haven’t gone on to Step 3.
3) 90% of those finishing Step 3 were experiencing a decline in their worship attendance prior to beginning FCJ. Yet over half of these churches grew over their three years in FCJ. In comparison, over this same period only 29% of Indiana UMCs grew.
The bottom line is that the Conference through its Church Development area wouldn’t continue to invest significant amounts of time, money, and effort into FCJ unless it truly was making a difference.
So if your church has been invited to participate in the new group of churches beginning the process in September, make sure to register right away. If your church hasn’t been invited yet you’re interested in participating, contact your district superintendent or your Church Development staff person.
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development
(Note: If you’re in a church averaging fewer than 50 in worship, FCJ, in its present form, will not be very effective. We’re considering options for churches like yours.)