Overview for 2013-2014
The Fruitful Congregation Journey is a team-based, leadership development discovery process to help churches to more effectively fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The process first helps develop a church’s leadership base so as to provide it with greater strength. Then the process helps a church discern what next steps it needs to take in order to be more fruitful and effective. In healthy, growing churches the process helps churches move to even greater effectiveness. In plateaued or declining churches, it provides them with a strategy and coach to move forward. In the process, leaders customize the directions and outcomes to fit their church’s particular ministry context. It’s not a “cookie-cutter” approach.
The Fruitful Congregation Journey consists of the following three steps:
- Shared Learning Experience (7 months)
- Laity track, called Lay Leadership Development (LLD)
- Pastor track, called Pastor Leadership Development (PLD)
- Consultation/Intervention Process (approximately 5 months, once scheduled)
- Implementation of Prescriptions (up to 18 months)
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 eight 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 100 or more in average weekly attendance. (There’s another process for smaller churches.) At this time, only a limited number of churches from the Indiana Conference will be invited to participate. In 2013-2014, 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. It is imperative the lead pastor and at least six laity attend all eight 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 the Lay Leadership Development (LLD), are led by laity with experience in churches that have effective ministry. 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 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, church’s must pay at least $195 of the registration fee. Once the 40 spots are filled, additional churches will need to wait till the 2014-2015 Shared Learning Experience. The registration deadline is May 31, 2013.
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 to identify the areas that need focused attention in order to move your church forward into greater effectiveness and fruitfulness. Step 2, approximately five months once scheduled, will help your church assess its strengths and weakness and to identify five prescriptions to help your church move forward. With the help of a coach, Step 3 will help your church implement the five prescriptions identified in Step 2. This typically will take up to 18 months.
Cost for Steps 2 & 3: There is 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.)
How and why were we invited?
The conference Church Development staff and District Superintendents considered which churches would be ideal candidates and yours made the final cut. Your church and the others were selected because they are considered to be high potential churches–either already doing effective ministry or having the potential.
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 – Our World Has Changed / Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, by Robert Schnase
- 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 / Book to be announced.
Note: Participants are encouraged to read the first book, Bearing Fruit, prior to Session One.
Results & Testimonies
Nearly 130 Indiana United Methodist Churches have participated in Step 1 (over 40% of those eligible). It’s still too early to know the impact FCJ will have on these churches; however, initial results show that fourteen of the twenty churches that went on to Step 3 last year experienced an increase in their worship attendance, and eight of these had been in decline prior to FCJ.
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.
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP…
- Review this information and your invitation letter with your church leaders.
- Contact your district’s Conference Church Development staff person at 877-781-6706 (toll free) for more information.
- Show your leaders a video explaining FCJ and the results it’s bringing to Indiana UMCs.
- Go to the Conference website at the above address for more information about FCJ.
- Contact a church that has been through Step 1. (See below.)
- Contact your Church Development staff person to see if they might be available to meet with your Church Council if needed.
- Engage your church in prayerful discernment. Ask: Is this the right process? Is this the right time?
Indiana United Methodist Churches (100+) that have participated in Step 1
Bartlett Chapel 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 University Heights UMC
Indianapolis University UMC
Indianapolis Wesley UMC
Martinsville First UMC
Mt Auburn UMC
Mt Comfort UMC
Smith Valley UMC
Muncie College Avenue UMC
New Castle First UMC
Portland Asbury UMC
Portland Trinity UMC
Richmond Central UMC
Richmond First UMC
North Central District
Anderson Cross Roads UMC
Kokomo Main St UMC
Kokomo Zion UMC
Lapel Trinity UMC
Noblesville Emmanuel UMC
Pendleton First UMC
Decatur First UMC
Fort Wayne Calvary UMC
Fort Wayne Taylor Chapel UMC
Fort Wayne Trinity UMC
Fort Wayne Waynedale UMC
Kendallville Faith UMC
Kendallville Trinity UMC
LaGrange First UMC
Mt Etna UMC
New Haven UMC
South Whitley UMC
Church of The Four Seasons UMC
Door Village UMC
Gary Christ UMC
Hammond Woodmar UMC
Hobart First UMC
Mishawaka Albright UMC
Mishawaka Coalbush UMC
Munster Ridge UMC
North Judson UMC
North Webster UMC
Plymouth First UMC
South Bend Grace UMC
South Bend Northwest UMC
Warsaw First UMC
Lafayette Christ UMC
Lafayette Grace UMC
Logansport Crosswind UMC
Logansport First UMC
Peru Parkview UMC
Rensselaer Trinity UMC
Rochester Grace UMC
Royal Center UMC
Wabash Christ UMC
Wabash First UMC
Winamac First UMC
Columbus Asbury UMC
Madison Trinity UMC
North Vernon First UMC
Rushville St Paul's UMC
Corydon Old Capital UMC
Jefferson Park Memorial UMC
Jeffersonville Wall Street UMC
New Albany Depauw Memorial UMC
New Albany Silver Street UMC
New Albany Wesley Chapel UMC
Pfrimmers Chapel UMC
Evansville Old North UMC
Evansville The Turning Pointe UMC
Mt Vernon First UMC
Petersburg First UMC
Vincennes Community UMC
Vincennes First UMC
Brazil First UMC
Crawfordsville First UMC
Terre Haute Mt Pleasant UMC
Terre Haute Temple UMC
– January 16, 2013, Indiana Conference UMC