Our Focus on Congregational Vitality
Remember what the Discipline said about making disciples? It said the main arena for that work is in local congregations. Doing this work is not something that the Area or your Conference can do for you. Disciples grow in close community where mentorship, partnership and rich relationship can be created and sustained.
Still, The United Methodist Church has a rich and fruitful tradition of delivering the benefits of networks to local congregations. The benefits of connection fall into four major categories:
- To accomplish things in the world that your congregation cannot do alone (e.g., international relief work and high-quality training)
- To provide coherence, legitimacy and continuity (e.g., appointment system, clergy qualifications and assessment, health insurance plans, and tax-deferred status)
- To provide resourcing (funding, curriculum and processes)
- To provide accountability (core mission, collegiality and supportive partners)
In our Greater Northwest Area church vitality work, we are mainly focused on delivering the best resourcing and accountability we have to offer in order to support and nurture the vitality of your congregation. We are committed to these values as we seek to work with you:
- Delivering the right things at the right time for your congregation
- Honoring the assets of your context, which is always unique
- Keeping the bar high – we will do our best to help you to be your best
- Acknowledging honestly that change is hard, and extending the grace to fail forward when we fail
Nurturing Teams as Teams:
Have you ever noticed that biblical leaders are almost never sent out alone? Jesus immediately recruited his team of 12. When he sent them out, it was in pairs. Moses had Aaron, David had Jonathan, Naomi had Ruth and Paul had Barnabas. Even our notion of God is a Trinity! We come from a culture that imagines leaders as Lone Rangers – even he had a partner! We don’t think our cultural idea of leadership as a lonely burden is adequate.
You will soon discover that almost everything we offer to nurture congregational vitality is offered only to teams. And whenever possible, we want to work with a group of teams from more than one congregation. All of our experience tells us that when we work in leadership communities, change is more fruitful and sustainable. The advantages of working with teams 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.
- This builds into the DNA that each community of faith is a part of a much larger community and reality.
- Working together presents new opportunities to find a bigger vision.
- It removes the competition tension that commonly exists among pastors and congregations, and replaces it with the sharing of insights and assets.
- It yokes the strengths and giftedness of collaborators.
- It yokes the collective resources of all the partner congregations.
- It nurtures a natural environment for mutual accountability among pastors and leadership teams.
- Working this way is better stewardship of our conference funds dedicated to nurturing vitality.
- Above all, it reclaims the power of the connection.