Does your church seem stuck? Has it been declining or plateaued the past few years? Does it seem like it’s simply treading water? If so, maybe it’s time to ask the question, “What’s our church’s next step?
George Bullard, president of the Columbia Partnership, wrote in a recent article that the “transformation of a congregation is most likely to occur among congregations who are in movement rather than at rest.” He refers to an earlier comment by Kennon Callahan, who wrote: “You can correct everything wrong with a congregation and bring it right up to neutral.” The challenge then is how to help your congregation move beyond neutral, to get some forward movement so that revitalization is more likely to be possible.
Among Indiana United Methodists, over 260 congregations have turned to a multi-year process called the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ). It is designed to help churches move out of neutral and to begin to get some forward momentum. FCJ is not a magic fix that can guarantee that a church will move off its plateau or reverse its decline. It does, however, give a church hope and direction and a strategic plan for moving forward. Many times those three things–hope, direction, and a strategic plan–can be just what the church needs to get unstuck.
The Indiana Conference is in the process of extending invitations to churches averaging over 70 in weekly worship attendance to participate in Step 1 of the three-step process, which will begin this fall. This will be the final year that the “classic” FCJ process is offered. In the future, FCJ Next, a modified enhanced version, will be offered. So for churches that have been considering participating in the past, this is the year to say “Yes!” Let your district superintendent or Church Development staff person know if you’d like your church to receive an invitation and take a step to get your church going forward for the sake of Christ and His mission.
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development
P.S. Churches averaging under 70 will have the opportunity to participate in FCJ Impact, especially designed for smaller churches. A pilot group is going through it in the Kokomo area and new groups will be launched in other areas this fall.