The Syndeo Project: A Strategic Foundation
There are a number of foundational directions that drive our work of new church development in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area, particularly around vital multisite strategies. One bedrock strategy, which allows us to reduce our exposure to risk, while encouraging bold steps of faith in starting new churches and revitalization work, is that of The Syndeo Project.
The Greek word syndeo means “connection” or “to connect.” The Syndeo Project model simply represents the opportunity to celebrate our connectional heritage as United Methodists by rebuilding this all-important characteristic back into the DNA of new and revitalized churches. Often, a lack of financial resources, limited on-the-job training, and loneliness become the greatest challenges to starting a new church or growing a young church. The Syndeo Project model sets into motion a more organic and intentional approach to establishing and sustaining new church development projects that work to accomplish the mission to which Christ has called each of us.
Contained in a cohort model, new church projects and/or repurposed communities of faith partner together to enter into a renewed covenantal relationship to operate as a cohort-partner church, sharing a similar vision, missional focus, resources, and collaboration in leadership discernment and decision-making. Such a cooperative approach to new church development removes the competition mode we often operate in as United Methodists, and instead yokes the strengths and giftedness of individuals for the betterment of the leadership team and the church. Each church would then become like a campus of the project initiative, working in collaboration with one another as a Syndeo partner church, yet remaining on its own charge.
The unique advantage of the Syndeo Project model is that each partner church will likely represent a different point in the process of moving to a viable and thriving church. Because of this, each appointed pastor to the cohort is then exposed to (and participates in) each of these different points in the planting and/or growth cycle.
“A shared vision, common mission focus, concentrated wake, responsible stewardship, and the power of the connection all yield the building blocks and foundation for planting vibrant United Methodist Churches.”
The syndeo project
By yoking the giftedness and passion of cohort pastors toward a common goal, the practice of engaging multistage communities offers a richer experience of learning and growing for each. Additionally, the Syndeo Project model creates a space for future church plant candidates to participate safely and gain exposure to the necessary decision-making and vision-casting of new church development and vitality, at various locations and regarding a variety of ministry initiatives. Such a collaborative approach can inform new sites birthed out of the cohort’s movement, led by a planter who was first appointed to the cohort as a whole.
The cooperative work of the Syndeo Project model is invaluable concerning the training and ongoing growth of the participating pastors and key staff members. A shared vision, common mission focus, concentrated wake, responsible stewardship, and the power of the connection, all yield the building blocks and foundation for planting vibrant United Methodist Churches.
The Syndeo Project model is extremely valuable for cohort participants, but is also equally efficient in sharing resources, both financial and tangible, that cultivate sustainability. Specific benefits include:
- Cohort members are no longer “in the trenches” alone, but instead operate collaboratively; led by a named lead mentor/vision-caster/facilitator pastor/planter
- Builds into the DNA that each community of faith is a part of something much larger
- Presents new opportunities to cast an overarching vision
- Removes the “competition” tension that commonly exists among pastors and congregations
- Yokes the strengths and giftedness of cohort pastors
- Yokes the collective resources of all partner communities of faith
- Creates a process for improving discernment and training for church planting candidates, exposing them to multiple stages and settings
- Informs a natural environment for accountability among campus pastors and staff
- Models better stewardship in how we invest our conference funds toward planting new churches
- Saves money, time, and valuable energy
- Presents a win-win for all parties involved
- Reclaims the power of the connection
NOTE: A formalized syndeo cohort under the Syndeo Project model utilizes the accepted (modifiable) covenant agreements located in the Appendix of this document — one for cohort pastors and one for cohort partnering churches/projects.