Fruitful Congregation Journey for churches


The Fruitful Congregation Journey is a team-based, leadership development discovery process to help churches more effectively fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

The Fruitful Congregation Journey consists of the following three steps:

  • Shared Learning Experience (7 months)
  1. Laity track, called Lay Leadership Development (LLD) 
  2. Pastor track, called Pastor Leadership Development (PLD)
  • Consultation/Intervention Process (approximately 5 months, once scheduled)
  • Implementation of Ministry Action Plan (up to 24 months)

In Step 1, the process develops a church’s leadership base, helping grow leaders and providing them with key concepts for church effectiveness.

Step 2 of the process provides a church with a Ministry Action Plan that is tailored to its unique context and that builds on the concepts introduced in Step 1.

In Step 3, with the help of a coach, the church will implement the next steps outlined in its Ministry Action Plan.

Step 1: Shared Learning Experience (PLD/LLD)

What is it? In Step 1, a church establishes a team that meets with teams from other nearby churches for seven Saturday 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 average weekly attendance. At this time, only a limited number of churches from the Indiana Conference will be invited to participate. In 2014-2015, only around forty churches will be accepted into this process.

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 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 below.) 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. Once the 40 spots are filled, additional churches will need to wait till the 2015-2016 Shared Learning Experience.

Steps 2 & 3

Once a church’s pastor and lay team complete the Shared Learning Experience (Step 1), it will be eligible for steps 2 and 3 of the Fruitful Congregation Journey. It is in these steps that the focus moves from leadership development to church development, from developing leaders in your church to developing your church as a whole—applying the concepts in Step 1 within the church and identifying the areas that need focused attention in order to move your church forward to greater effectiveness and fruitfulness.

Step 2, approximately five months once scheduled, will help your church assess its strengths and weakness and provide it with a Ministry Action Plan to help your church move forward. With the help of a coach, Step 3 will help your church implement the next steps identified in Ministry Action Plan. This typically will take up to 24 months.

Cost for Steps 2 & 3: There is presently no cost to your church for Step 2. The Conference covers the $6,000-$7,000 expense. In Step 3 your church will pay its coach a monthly fee. (Note: The present coaching fee is $250 per month, plus roundtrip mileage; however, the fee may change depending on when a church enters Step 3.)

Topics and Tentative Book List for the Shared Learning Experience:

  • Session 1—Fruitful Journey / Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results, Lovett Weems & Tom Berlin
  • Session 2—To be finalized.
  • 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 encouraged to read the first book, Bearing Fruit, prior to Session One.

Results & Testimonies

Over 220 Indiana United Methodist Churches have participated in Step 1. Most of them are still in the process, so it’s still too soon to evaluate FCJ’s impact. They are reporting, however, renewed hope and energy, and clarity of focus and direction. And although 90% of those that have completed the process were plateaued or declining when they began, over half are now growing—nearly twice the rate of the Indiana Conference churches in general.

Attached is a listing of these churches by district. You’re encouraged to contact them to hear what their experience has been like. Here are some of their testimonies:

“We have had 10 laity folks volunteer to be part of the leadership team and they have been faithfully reading the monthly books and attending the learning sessions. Wow!”

- Jill Davis, lay leader at Linton UMC

“Delphi UMC is facing an important transition in moving to our new building. Fruitful congregations came along at just the right time to expand our network of leaders, expose them to timely research, and offering new perspectives. Fruitful Congregations gave us a full head of steam as we head into our new building. The process actually lightened my load as a Senior Pastor, as our lay people knew ideas even before I would present them to the congregation. I highly recommend this program for any church that desires to take the next step in the growth of building the Kingdom.”

-Todd Ladd, Senior Pastor, Delphi UMC


  1. Review this information and your invitation letter with your church leaders.
  2. Contact your district’s Conference Church Development staff person at 877 781-6706 (toll free) for more information.
  3. Show your leaders a video explaining FCJ and the results it’s bringing to Indiana UMCs by going to
  4. Go to the Conference website at the above address for more information about FCJ.
  5. Contact a church that has been through Step 1. (Refer to the attached list.)
  6. Contact your Church Development staff person to see if they might be available to meet with your Church Council if needed.
  7. Engage your church in prayerful discernment. Ask: Is this the right process? Is this the right time?

Indiana United Methodist churches that have participated in Step 1

Central District

Abundant Harvest UMC

Bartlett Chapel UMC

Castleton UMC

Danville UMC

Fortville UMC

Greenfield Trinity Park

Greenwood UMC

Indianapolis Barnes UMC

Indianapolis Chapel Hill UMC

Indianapolis Edgewood UMC

Indianapolis Epworth UMC

Indianapolis Good Shepherd UMC

Indianapolis Lawrence UMC

  Indianapolis Old Bethel UMC

Indianapolis Southport UMC

Indianapolis Speedway UMC

Indianapolis University UMC

Indianapolis University Heights UMC

Indianapolis Wesley UMC

Martinsville First UMC

McCordsville UMC

Mooresville UMC

Mt Auburn UMC

Mt Comfort UMC

Smith Valley UMC

Whiteland UMC

East District

Albany UMC

Centerville UMC


Daleville UMC

Desoto UMC

Hagerstown UMC

Knightstown UMC

Muncie Center Chapel

Muncie College Avenue UMC

Muncie Gethsemane

Muncie High Street UMC


Muncie Riverside

New Castle First UMC

Parker City UMC

Portland Asbury UMC

Portland Trinity UMC

Richmond Central UMC

Richmond First UMC

Selma UMC

Winchester First


North Central District

Anderson Cross Roads UMC

Anderson New Horizon UMC

Fishers Bethlehem UMC

Center Chapel

Converse UMC

Elwood First UMC

Frankton UMC

Herbst UMC

Kokomo Grace UMC


Kokomo Main St UMC

Kokomo Zion UMC

Lapel Ford Street UMC

Lapel Trinity UMC

Marion First UMC

Noblesville Emmanuel UMC

Pendleton First UMC

Gas City UMC

Thorntown UMC

Northeast District

Angola UMC

Avilla Calvary UMC

Bluffton First UMC

Churubusco UMC

Columbia City St. Matthew

Decatur First UMC

Fort Wayne Calvary UMC

Fort Wayne Covenant UMC

Fort Wayne Taylor Chapel UMC

Fort Wayne Trinity UMC

Fort Wayne Waynedale UMC

Harlan UMC

Huntington Evangelical UMC

Kendallville Faith UMC


Kendallville Trinity UMC

LaGrange First UMC


Markle UMC

Mt Etna UMC

New Haven UMC

Nine Mile UMC

Petroleum UMC

Scott UMC

South Whitley UMC

Roanoke Seminary UMC

Robinson Chapel UMC

Warren Solid Rock UMC

North District

Bremen UMC

Chesterton UMC

Church Of The Four Seasons UMC

DeMotte UMC

Door Village UMC

Dunlap UMC

Dyer UMC

Elkhart St. Pauls

Gary Christ UMC

Goshen St. Marks UMC

Hammond Woodmar UMC

Hanna UMC

Hebron UMC

Hobart First UMC

Lakeville UMC

Leesburg UMC


Mishawaka Albright UMC

Mishawaka Coalbush UMC


Munster Ridge UMC

New Carlisle UMC

North Judson UMC

North Liberty UMC

North Webster UMC

Plymouth First UMC

Porter UMC

Pretty Lake Trinity UMC

Salem Chapel UMC

South Bend Grace UMC

South Bend Monson Chapel UMC

South Bend Northwest UMC

South Bend Southlawn UMC

Valparaiso First UMC

Wakarusa UMC

Wanatah Faith UMC

Warsaw First UMC

Westville UMC

Wheeler UMC

Northwest District

Attica UMC

Brook UMC

Brookston UMC

Burket UMC

Dayton UMC

Delphi UMC

Flora UMC

Fowler UMC

Lafayette Brown St. UMC

Lafayette Christ UMC

Lafayette Grace UMC

Lafayette Heritage UMC


Lake Cicott UMC

Logansport Crosswind UMC

Logansport First UMC

McGrawsville UMC


Mexico New Life UMC

Monticello UMC

New Waverly UMC

Otterbein UMC

Peru Main Street UMC

Peru Parkview UMC


Rensselaer Trinity UMC

Reynolds UMC

Rochester Grace UMC

Royal Center UMC

Star City UMC

Wabash Christ UMC

Wabash First UMC

West Lafayette First UMC

Winamac First UMC

Southeast District

Batesville UMC

Bloomington First UMC

Columbus Asbury UMC

Greensburg UMC

Hanover UMC


Madison Trinity UMC

Nashville UMC

North Vernon First UMC

Rushville St Paul's UMC

Seymour First UMC 

South District

Charlestown UMC

Corydon Old Capital UMC

Corydon UMC

Edwardsville UMC

Heidilberg UMC

Jefferson Park Memorial UMC

Jeffersonville Wall Street UMC

Lincoln Hills UMC

Marengo UMC

Mt. Lebanon UMC

New Albany Depauw Memorial UMC


New Albany Jacobs Chapel UMC

New Albany Silver Street UMC

New Albany Wesley Chapel UMC

New Middletown UMC

Orleans UMC

Paoli UMC

Pfrimmers Chapel UMC

Scottsburg UMC

Sellersburg UMC

The Lighthouse UMC

Southwest District

Bicknell UMC

Cornerstone UMC

Dale UMC

Evansville Central UMC

Evansville Old North UMC

Evansville The Turning Pointe UMC

Fairlawn UMC

Loogootee UMC


Lynnville UMC

Mackey Salem UMC

Mt Vernon First UMC

Newburgh UMC

Petersburg First UMC

Vincennes Community UMC

Vincennes First UMC

Washington Christ UMC

West District

Bloomington Fairview UMC

Brazil First UMC

Clinton First UMC

Crawfordsville First UMC

Ellettsville UMC

Linden UMC


Linton UMC

Rockville First UMC

Terre Haute Mt Pleasant UMC

Terre Haute Temple UMC

Veedersburg UMC

– February 18, 2014, Indiana Conference UMC