by Gary A. Lindley*
In January, we launched the Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) in two districts within the Conference as a process to begin transforming our churches and refocusing ourselves on fulfilling The Great Commission. Following very positive responses from our first groups to participate in HCI classes, we are excited to begin taking applications from the entire Conference for HCI Pastoral Leadership Development classes for larger churches that will begin in September. In the fall, we will take applications for our next set of Small Church Initiative workshops which will begin in January 2013.
“This has been a great start,” said one participant. “It is very encouraging to look to the future.”
The Healthy Church Initiative includes two separate process models of transformation based on the size of the congregation. The Larger Church Initiative (LCI) works with churches that have worship attendance of more than 80 people. The Small Church Initiative (SCI) addresses the unique needs of the small membership church.
The foundational component of the LCI process is the Pastoral Leadership Development (PLD) class in which small groups of pastors come together for in-depth reading, peer learning and mutual support. The pastors’ learning is augmented through support from trained coaches throughout the eight-month span of the class.
Every pastor who joins a PLD class is encouraged to invite a few key lay leaders to join a Lay Leadership Development (LLD) class to run concurrently with their PLD group. These lay classes support and complement the ongoing learning of the pastor groups. Both groups are led by trained facilitators to give both pastors and laity the tools to strengthen their leadership skills. Throughout these classes, the groups focus on the need for change and the steps to make change.
“Our leadership should make a difference back in our churches if we take this course seriously,” said another participant involved in an ongoing PLD class.
Another said, “I believe HCI is a process that will help my church and me become more useful for Jesus.”
We have begun taking applications for the PLD classes that will begin in September. PLD classes are for pastors in churches with average worship attendance of at 80 or more each week. Acceptance into a PLD group will be dependent on approval of District Superintendents and space availability. Applications will be accepted through June 8. After pastors are accepted into a PLD class, they will receive applications for laity in their churches to register for an LLD group.
Our next round of classes for our Small Church Initiative, designed for churches with average worship attendance of less than 80, will begin in January 2013. Applications for those churches will be available in September.
*Gary is the Executive Director for the Center for Evangelism & Church Growth. Gary@ctcumc.org