February 15, 2013

Fruitful Congregations Journey: Part 5

And here are the "Prescriptions" from the Weekend Report. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions.


1. Develop a Clear, Focused, and Shared Guiding Vision – The date these prescriptions are adopted, Castleton UMC will embrace the mission of every United Methodist Church stated in the UM Book of Discipline: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

The congregation will have a day of prayer, repentance and healing during all Sunday worship services. The purpose of this day is to embrace God breaking open the hearts of the congregation for the local unchurched, and prepare them for the Lord’s vision for the future. To accommodate this for both campuses, two Prayer Coordinators will be chosen by Paula Gast, in consultation with the Lead Pastor, to lead the services. The day of prayer will be held no later than March 15, 2013.

The Lead Pastor and coach will conduct a Day of Visioning workshop by March 30, 2013 to assist the congregation in clarifying and providing a more focused vision (of reaching the community) to guide Castleton UMC into the future. This vision will be affirmed by the leaders that participate in this vision workshop. The days between the Day of Prayer and the Day of Visioning will be utilized by the people of the congregation as a call to prayer and fasting for this vision for the congregation. The vision will be presented to the Church Council by May 15, 2013. Upon approval, this vision will be communicated to the congregation in order to align your ministries to accomplish the vision.

Upon adopting the clarified vision, every ministry in the congregation must demonstrate how it will accomplish the mission and vision. To that end, the Church Council will conduct a ministry audit aligning the church’s ministries with the vision. This audit will be completed by August 1, 2013. Ministries will be evaluated by their faithfulness to the mission and vision and their fruitfulness (results). Any ministries not faithful and fruitful will be given up to one year to rectify. Any ministries that are not faithful to the mission and vision will be dissolved; any ministry that is faithful but still not fruitful will be modified and re-evaluated for fruitfulness. All continuing ministries will set goals and objectives in alignment with the mission and vision.

The pastor and Staff-Parish Relations Committee, with the help of the coach, will review the staff audit conducted by the consultant to insure it aligns with the mission and vision and the ministry audit. This will include creating result based job positions and descriptions, aligning them with the church’s mission and vision by October 1, 2013.

The pastor and the coach will see that an Accountability Leadership workshop for all staff and leaders is held by September 1, 2013. Upon completion of the Accountability Leadership workshop the Lead Pastor and Church Council, in consultation with the coach will develop a team of 4 to 6 leaders to explore the implementation of a single board structure for the church. Their recommendation will be presented to the Church Council by September 30, 2013.

The consult team discovered there was significant confusion and frustration on how to be one church with two sites. We encountered multiple examples of the campuses functioning as separate churches. Therefore we recommend the Church Council develop a plan to more fully become one church with two sites. The issues needing to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following: language of the “us and them”; the development of a common DNA (the mission, vision and values); the name of the church and each campus (like Castleton UMC with a Geist campus and a Shadeland campus); communication between the campuses; collaboration of ministries (like youth, mission projects, preschool); locations of ministries and meetings; etc. The Church Council will report this plan to the congregation by October 1, 2013.

2. Outward Focus. – The Pastor, in consultation with the coach, shall develop an Outreach Team to study the MissionInsite reports, and then dream of creative ways to reach out to each surrounding community. Persons on the team should have a deep passion for mission and evangelism.

This Outreach Team will develop 4-6 externally focused events to connect with the community. Each event will have a measurable way to invite and connect people into the fellowship or worship of the church. These events should be strategically placed through the calendar year. Multi-aged church participation is vital. Existing events could be used such as: VBS, Fish Fry, Chili Cook-off, basketball outreach, etc. At least 2 of these events must be new, not having been done previously. No event will be a fundraising event. In addition, new creative ways will be dreamed of such as: random acts of kindness, community service projects, tent services, etc. In addition, a way to better connect the preschools and adult day care people to the life of the church should be developed.

3. Discipleship Path. – The pastor, in consultation with the coach, shall put together a team to strategize a discipleship pathway for both campuses designed for first time attendee through the most seasoned saint. This path will include:
  • A well-marked path for a newcomer to get connected to either campus. The process will differ because of the size of each campus. The team should consult with other churches that have a successful newcomer connection process (i.e. Clay UMC in South Bend; Cornerstone UMC in Grand Rapids, MI). This process should be ready to implement by April 1, 2013.
  • A process of faith development that receives people at any step of the journey and leads them to the next. This will include basic spirituality (how to pray; read the Bible; big questions, etc.) and will progress through a more seasoned spiritual walk with God (Disciple Bible Study, advanced ministry training.) This process should be in place by September 2013. Pastor Tracy’s work in this area is much appreciated by the participants.
  • A process of developing new small group leaders and groups for new disciples being developed through your ministry.
  • A focus will be placed on developing new children’s opportunities at 11:00 at Castleton campus. Children’s ministry will be offered concurrent with worship. The Orange curriculum can be expanded to all age levels.
  • The Student Ministry (youth) shall explore a youth worship experience along with small groups on Sunday nights. This could be combined with middle and high school students at first, but split as soon as they have sustainable numbers.
4. Strengthening Communication – The pastor in consultation with the coach will select a team of 3-5 people by March 1, 2013 from staff and laity from each campus (at least one having a background in marketing and communication) to research and implement healthy and effective ways to communicate surrounding major decisions, general updates, finances and capital debt. Particular attention will be given to transparency, accountability, and effectiveness that use various forms of technology so that the church is not weighted down with more meetings just to share pertinent information. The team will review practices of other multi-site churches that demonstrate clear and concise communication, and present a plan for improvement to the Church Council by May 15, 2013

5. Capital Debt. – The consult team affirms the work of the sub-committee of the Generosity Committee which is working on resolving the issues surrounding the capital debt. An insurance consultant has been contracted to evaluate the current situation. The committee will write a report to inform the congregation on the specifics of the debt and the progress toward a viable plan in a town hall meeting by April 15, 2013. The congregation will have the opportunity to hear updated information about the debt and current liability. An additional town hall meeting will be held by June 30, 2013 to hear and discuss the viable plan for the debt retirement. The plan to resolve the debt will then be voted on by the Church Conference. We recommend the team consult with Jennifer Gallagher, the Conference Treasurer, to help the team think through and clarify this issue.

The capital campaign giving of $400,000 a year will end in July, 2013. This giving has been used to pay toward the $1.3 million life insurance annual premiums. The policies funded by these premiums are the collateral for the capital debt. With a new debt reduction plan in place, a capital campaign will be held during the fall of 2013 to fund the plan. This is important because no principle or interest is being paid so the amount of the debt continues to increase.

The tithe giving to the Annual Conference will no longer be held in escrow. We affirm the decision to pay the tithe monthly to model to the congregation the importance of tithing. Church participants will be encouraged to tithe as they pull together to resolve this major issue.

In combination with the day of Prayer and Forgiveness in prescription 1, a 21 day Daniel Fast is recommended. The pastoral staff and willing persons can research this type of fast and challenge the church body to fast and pray for God’s deliverance.