FCJ Step 1

Step 1: Shared Learning Experience (PLD/LLD)

Please note: the final cohort group of Step 1 will begin in September of 2016. 

This will be your church's last opportunity to participate in this version of the Fruitful Congregation Journey.  

What is it? In Step 1, a church establishes a team that meets with teams from other churches in your area for seven monthly learning sessions. This experience will help your team learn key concepts and best practices – tapping into the discoveries of other effective churches and church leaders – and then apply them in their own lives in order to develop as church leaders. As a result, your church will develop a cadre of leaders to help it more effectively carry out its mission and become more fruitful.

What churches are eligible? This particular step is designed for churches averaging 50 or more in weekly attendance. At this time, only a limited number of churches from the Indiana Conference will be invited to participate.

Where? Sessions will be held at locations throughout the state determined by the location of the participating churches. It is intended that a church will not have to travel more than an hour to attend.

The Team: A church’s team consists of its pastor and 8-15 laity (or 10% of its average weekly worship attendance for churches between 50-100). It is imperative the lead pastor and at least six laity attend all seven sessions. Pastors attend a weekday session just for pastors. Associate pastors may attend this session with the lead pastor. This session, called the Pastor Leadership Development (PLD), will be led by a trained lead pastor of a growing congregation.

The laity – which may include paid lay staff, but should include other key leaders as well – attend a Saturday session, usually the same week as the pastors’ session. These sessions, called Lay Leadership Development (LLD), are led by laity with experience in churches that have effective ministry. Pastors do not attend these sessions. Although pastors and laity meet separately, to foster open and honest sharing, both groups cover the same material.

Seven Sessions: All sessions begin at 9 am and end by 1 pm. Lunch is not a part of these sessions. Each session will consist of teaching, spiritual reflection, interaction with the ideas and concepts, and group sharing. A major focus of the Shared Learning Experience for participants is personal growth. Participants will be given time to share, with others from their church, how their lives are being changed.

Between Sessions: Participants read a book each month pertaining to each session’s topic. Those on your church’s team (pastors and 8-15 laity) meet at least once between each session to debrief the session, discuss the readings, and to see how each person is doing at applying the concepts.

Cost? The participation fee for Step 1 is $895 per church. This includes the cost of the session facilitators and site. The participants will need to download electronically the Participants Manual for all seven sessions, as well as procure copies of the seven books used. (Note: Used books may be available for purchase or loan from other Indiana UM churches that have completed Step 1. A list of these churches is attached.) A church can pay this fee in full upon registering or can pay an initial $195 non-refundable payment and be billed for the remainder in three monthly payments of $200 and one monthly payment of $100.

Limited space: Please note, there is only space for about 40 churches to participate. To secure a spot, churches must pay at least $195 of the registration fee.  

Topics and Tentative Book List for the Shared Learning Experience:

  • Session 1 – Beginning the Journey/Renovate or Die by Bob Farr
  • Session 2 – Becoming a Fruitful Church / Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results, Lovett Weems & Tom Berlin
  • Session 3 – Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field / Direct Hit by Paul Borden
  • Session 4 – Personal Leadership / Taking Your Church to the Next Level, by Gary McIntosh
  • Session 5 – Focusing for Transformation / Simple Church by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger
  • Session 6 – Focusing Outward/The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson
  • Session 7 – Real Life Evangelism/Get Their Name by Doug Anderson, Bob Farr, Kay Kotan

Note: Participants are to read the first book, Renovate or Die, prior to Session One.