When a congregation has realized an excellent spiritual leadership team, and they have undertaken to discern and articulate a vision and an intentional ministry plan to fulfill the vision, they will begin to experience the challenges of implementing their plans. Bloom resources assume that the leadership team is at this stage of the vitality cycle.
By this point in the vitality process, different congregations will need different resources. Intentional ministry plans are unique and contextual. All leadership teams at the ‘Bloom’ stage will need to continue their newly developed habits of teamwork, spiritual practice, robust assessment and evaluation processes, ongoing leadership call and development system, and good communication skills. However, as ministry plans develop, different congregations will do different things in order to move forward. Some examples include:
- Developing an intentional discipling process
- Making worship adjustments and enhancements
- Enhancing community engagement and outreach processes
- Implementing stewardship and financial system improvements
- Developing community partnerships
- Simplifying governance
No congregation will need to do all these things at once (and maybe none). Excellent leadership teams will discern the pinch points in their mission effectiveness and will address them where they have capacity.
If your leadership team is actually ready for this stage in the vitality cycle but does not have a clear sense of what to do, or what it has tried is not working, consider contacting your Conference Developer for an informal consultation to help your leaders discern what next step may be most useful. The following resources may be appropriate for particular congregations who have a sense of what kind of help they need.
Many congregations beginning to move significantly into the vitality cycle will begin to experience strains due to their governance structure. The normal governance system of our United Methodist Churches is designed to help us keep doing what we did before, which was a great idea when it was working, but that structure actually impedes the kind of responsive and flexible ministries that characterize vital congregations.
The following steps are recommended for congregations where governance may have become a missional challenge:
- The leadership team should study Leadership and Organization for Fruitful Congregations by Stephan Ross.
- After the study, this group should decide whether simple governance would be of help and worth the effort to implement. If the answer is yes:
- The leadership team will develop a specific proposal to either the church council, or if they are the church council, to the entire church. This proposal will specify the structure to be implemented including which committees, how many positions on each committee, descriptions of the responsibility, authority and accountability of each elected committee and planned ministry team, and the schedule of implementation.
- The council will consider the proposal and recommend adoption by the congregation. If they do not recommend adoption, their concerns should result in the adjustment of the proposal or the dropping of the idea.
- If the council recommends moving to Simple Governance, there should be a Simple Governance Workshop for church leadership and open to the whole congregation. This is a four-hour workshop at the church, offered through the Office of Congregational Development.
- There should be one or two Town Hall Meetings for the congregation to comment on and ask questions about the proposal.
- There should be an all-church vote to adopt or reject the proposal.