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)
    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 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.


  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.
  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. (See below.)
  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 (100+) that have participated in Step 1

Central District

Bartlett Chapel UMC

Castleton UMC

Danville UMC

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 University Heights UMC

Indianapolis University UMC

Indianapolis Wesley UMC

Martinsville First UMC

Mooresville UMC

Mt Auburn UMC

Mt Comfort UMC

Smith Valley UMC

Whiteland UMC

East District


Muncie College Avenue UMC

Muncie Gethsemane

Muncie Riverside

New Castle First UMC

Portland Asbury UMC 


Portland Trinity UMC

Richmond Central UMC

Richmond First UMC

Selma UMC

Winchester First


North Central District

Anderson Cross Roads UMC

Center Chapel

Kokomo Main St UMC

Kokomo Zion UMC 


Lapel Trinity UMC

Noblesville Emmanuel UMC

Pendleton First UMC

Northeast District

Angola UMC

Churubusco 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

North District

Bremen UMC

Chesterton UMC

Church of The Four Seasons UMC

Door Village UMC

Dyer UMC

Gary Christ UMC

Hammond Woodmar UMC

Hobart First UMC

Lakeville 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

Wakarusa UMC

Warsaw First UMC

Northwest District

Brook UMC

Brookston UMC

Dayton UMC

Delphi UMC


Lafayette Christ UMC

Lafayette Grace UMC

Logansport Crosswind UMC

Logansport First UMC

McGrawsville UMC


Monticello UMC

Otterbein UMC

Peru Parkview UMC


Rensselaer Trinity UMC

Rochester Grace UMC

Royal Center UMC

Wabash Christ UMC

Wabash First UMC

Winamac First UMC

Southeast District

Batesville UMC

Columbus Asbury UMC

Greensburg UMC

Hanover UMC 


Madison Trinity UMC

Nashville UMC

North Vernon First UMC

Rushville St Paul's UMC

South District

Corydon Old Capital UMC

Edwardsville 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

Scottsburg UMC

Sellersburg UMC

Southwest District

Evansville Central

Evansville Old North UMC

Evansville The Turning Pointe UMC

Loogootee UMC

Mt Vernon First UMC


Newburgh UMC

Petersburg First UMC

Vincennes Community UMC

Vincennes First UMC

West District

Bloomington Fairview

Brazil First UMC

Crawfordsville First UMC

Linden UMC


Linton UMC

Terre Haute Mt Pleasant UMC

Terre Haute Temple UMC

– January 16, 2013, Indiana Conference UMC