Please note that the July 4 monthly meeting has been reschedule to Tuesday, July 18 in the Copper Chimney Lounge at 6:30 PM.
From Pastor Bill ~
VCI task forces have authority to implement
Our congregation read Bob Farr’s book, Ten Prescriptions for a Healthy Church, prior to the most recent pastoral change. I am not sure if Rev. Jennie Browne covered the chapter on Intentional Faith Development in her sermon series on that book. At the risk of being redundant, I would like to remind us of the importance of Intentional Faith Development for every congregation. The mission of any church will rise and fall with the strength of faith and Christian character of the congregation.
In Cultivating Fruitfulness, Bishop Robert Schnase tells us that intentional faith development refers to all other ministries and practices outside of weekly worship that help us to grow in faith. Sunday school classes, Bible studies, small groups, prayer time, and other spiritual practices help us to deepen our faith. Intentional refers to deliberate effort, purposeful action, and high priority. Those who practice intentional faith development should be able to look back over their lives of discipleship and see some kind of progress, some evidence of growth (Cultivating Fruitfulness, p. 43). Christians who fail to grow in faith often find themselves going through the motions, creatures of habit driven by the church calendar or tradition with little appreciation for mission and vision.
Lacking a plan for intentional faith development, many churches experience declining participation, leadership, and financial support. Disciples who don’t mature in faith have a hard time sharing their faith. Believing in God isn’t a guarantee that one will grow in faith. According to Bob Farr, “All this has resulted in a church full of consumers. When you have an outward form of faith but lack the inner substance of faith, you become easily upset when the leadership of the church begins to change the outward forms of that faith” (Ten Prescriptions for a Healthy Church, p. 58). If we fail to continually grow in faith, we may become attached to the outward forms of religion. We may become attached to preference and tradition. Lack of growth often equates to lack of vision.
Every church should offer a plan for intentional faith development. We currently have a task force developing one for ours. We each have to work at deepening our faith. This is something we do together. Depth of faith and commitment to discipleship are essential for churches that earnestly desire to follow Jesus and serve others. Growing disciples understand that we follow Jesus and participate in church not only for our own sake but also for the sake of those God calls us to reach and serve.
Rev. William C. Bills
Focus: our vision, mission, values
by Jay Makowski
Chair, Ministry Audit Team
Prescription 1 of our Vital Church Initiative report addresses the alignment of UUMC's vision, mission and values. Item B states, “The pastor, in consultation with the coach, will recruit a Ministry Audit Team of 3-4 people by April 30, 2017, to do the following:
1. Evaluate all ministries to determine their alignment with the vision, mission and values.
2. All ministries not in alignment by December 31, 2017 will be celebrated and dissolved at that time."
Pastor Bills started this process by asking Lisa Berg, Peter Berg, W. Winston Chu and Jay Makowski to form the Ministry Audit Team. In the current process, we are asking everyone who leads a ministry group to fill out the “VCI Ministry Audit Team Initial Survey.” The survey can be found online atwww.surveymonkey.com/r/G5S6WPC. If you would rather fill out a paper copy of the survey, you may obtain one at the church office. Please return completed surveys to Jay Makowski’s church mailbox.
This survey is simply an initial assessment of all ministries at UUMC. It is not anything final or binding. Once information is gathered and reviewed, the Ministry Audit Team may do a secondary, more in-depth survey, and may meet with individual ministry groups. This will be used in evaluating ministries to determine their alignment with our vision, mission and values.
If you have questions or need help with the survey, contact Jay (email@example.com), Lisa (firstname.lastname@example.org), Peter (email@example.com) or Winston (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by Susan Curtis
Chair, Policy Governance Task Force
Vital Church Initiative Prescription #6, “Policy Governance Model,” calls for UUMC to “adopt a policy governance model of accountability, responsibility and authority for faithful and fruitful accomplishment of shared vision, mission and values.”
The eight-member Policy Governance Task Force has been meeting every two weeks since early April to plan for transition from UUMC’s current Administrative Board to a Policy Governance Board. As part of the planning and preparation process, our task force is reading “Governance and Ministry” by Dan Hotchkiss and “Leadership and Organization for Fruitful Congregations” by Stephan W. Ross. We have reviewed transition and guideline documents from several United Methodist churches that have moved to a policy governance board model.
In the policy governance model, the current Administrative Board would be replaced with a Policy Governance Board responsible for UUMC’s goal setting, strategic planning, final budget approval, setting policies, goal adjustments and allocation of resources. This structure will allow us to move to a mission focus with decisions being guided by the mission, vision and values of UUMC.
The task force is working on: 1) developing a plan for transition to a policy governance model which will be presented at the UUMC Church Conference in the fall of 2017; 2) developing rules for the new Board; and 3) creating a slate of nominees to present for the new board at the Fall 2017 Church Conference. It must also ensure that the transition plan is in alignment with the United Methodist Book of Discipline. A vote on whether to approve the transition plan to a policy governance model will be voted on at the Fall 2017 UUMC Church Conference. If the plan is approved, the current Administrative Board will be celebrated and retired and the new Board will assume its responsibilities effective January 1, 2018.
To date, decisions for the transition plan that have been made include: The Board will consist of 9 lay members and the lead pastor and secretary. The pastor and secretary will be non-voting members. We will have 3-year terms with staggered classes of three members each. Qualifications for the Board include being an active UUMC member for at least 2 years, regular giving and demonstration of services/volunteering.
Work in process: We are developing a participant covenant and the application process which will include a letter describing the individual’s calling, spiritual gifts and desire to serve and commitment to complete leadership training in early 2018. We are also developing a formal transition plan and the relationship for SPRC, Finance and Trustees to the Policy Governance Board.
The Policy Governance Board Task Force welcomes your participation in the planning process. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact Rev. Bill Bills (email@example.com or 351-7030) or Susan Curtis (firstname.lastname@example.org) or any task force member.
Note: This report references several items discussed in our VCI Prescriptions and Cathy Townley's report to UUMC. To read the complete text of the prescriptions and recommendations, see the full version of this Policy Governance Model Prescription at: www.universitychurchhome.org/vci.
by Janel Horrocks-Boehmer
Chair, Hospitality Task Force
The Vital Church Initiative Hospitality Team would like to update you on our progress. We are actively working with Prescription 3, the Sunday morning experience at University UM Church. Prescription 3a prescribes that our church develop and implement a process to track and intentionally connect with all new persons to our congregation. Prescription 3d has to do with required training for our greeters and ushers related to providing this hospitality. Our training principles are based on materials written by experts in this field.
Our team members started in the parking lot and entered UUMC as an apprehensive, unsure “guest.” With a focus on intentional hospitality and the Sunday morning experience where each of our guests feel comfortable and valued, we evaluated the 7-minute window of opportunity that we have with each new guest from the parking lot until the worship service starts. UUMC is continually hosting new attendees with three or more groups of guests each week.
To make the gathering and garden areas more visually appealing and accommodating, we moved the Welcome desk to the side. We are incorporating a team approach of greeting which includes having greeters at the doors and stairs, connectors, ushers, persons at the Welcome desk and the pastors. Following the prescriptions and recommendations in our readings, the task force is embracing coffee and refreshments in Asbury Hall, the Gathering and Garden areas and the entire church facility. Further, our intent is to provide a warm, positive and welcoming experience for all guests.
We are designing a “connecting card” with the goal of effectively collecting information on guests and regular attendees. We are also refining a protocol for follow-through in order to maintain a connection with and provide information to guests. An event is being planned to recognize and thank all of the individuals that have served in the capacity of greeting including connectors, greeters, ushers, and welcomers. Additional required training designed around these prescriptions will be held this fall.
With both of our summer services and the new school year ahead, our real challenge is for each of us to see ourselves as instrumental in the greeting process from the parking lot to the pew. We encourage each of you (kids and adults) to sign up to greet, help with coffee and help people out of their cars. If we create a warm, welcoming, accepting and sincere environment, we will excite people to visit us again and again and allow each of our guests to develop their spirituality and realize the love of God.
The Hospitality Team welcomes your comments and particularly welcome your participation in the current work we’re doing and in the exciting planning and training ahead of us as we seek to carry out the mission of the church.
by Dan Cummings
Chair, Facilities Task Force
Editor's Note: This report references several items discussed in our VCI Prescriptions and Cathy Townley's report to UUMC. To read the complete text of the prescriptions/recommendations, see the full version of this Facilities Task Force update at: www.universitychurchhome.org/vci.
What we have done
Bulletin boards (Cathy Townley report, page 6)
The Facilities Task Force took a close look at various bulletin boards in the church building. What we noticed, upon inspection, is that most of the boards are firmly in the category of the “wild, wild west.” There doesn’t seem to be management of the boards' content; indeed, we saw many postings 1 to 2 years old. Current information is most certainly hidden in the clutter of interesting, but dated, material. Owners of bulletin boards are encouraged to prune, prune, and prune. You know better than the Facilities team which postings are important, but, if you prefer, we can bring in a gardener to help with the effort. Bulletin boards in the Wesley hallway have been relieved of all dated material. And, not surprisingly, there was nothing left. Those bulletin boards are candidates to be celebrated and retired.
What we going to do
Directional Signage – Church exterior (Cathy Townley report, page 4)
This item is in the to-be-done category. Straightforward and less than $200 to complete.
Chalk Boards (Cathy Townley report, page 6)
Several movable white boards (less mess than chalk boards) can be available for positive comments. As with the bulletin boards, content must be kept current. Expect the white boards to be cleaned after the service. Again, a simple item and inexpensive. Expect to see this completed in the next month.
Sunday Morning Experience (VCI Consultation Report, Prescription 3b)
This prescription has been the source of some dismay, particularly taking down the pastor’s pictures. Think of this as your child’s artwork on the refrigerator. As new works of art are produced, some of the previous pieces must be taken down to make room. Reducing the clutter around the new work of art allows for focus on the newest, most current offering. The point, as a church with a mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” is that the past must take a back seat to current and future mission activities. The Facilities Task Force is discussing alternate locations for those items currently on display.
Lobby and Building Navigation (Cathy Townley report, page 5)
Improved directional signage will help to improve the ability of guests to navigate to the children’s space on the second floor, find the bathroom facilities, and locate all the other important destinations in our church. We need to think like a visitor and answer their questions the best we can. This has easy implementation and low cost. Look for these improvements in the near future.
Screen Usage During Worship (Cathy Townley report, page 6)
The Facilities Task Force had the fortunate opportunity to meet with a nationally-recognized projection consultant from the east coast. Contacts are everything, and this gentleman is a childhood friend of one of our task force members. He volunteered to meet with us on his way to the airport after visiting with family. Summary of the discussion: Creating projection in our worship space is fairly straightforward. Two 10-foot wide screens and two high-definition projectors from the corners of the balcony that would provide the images. 2-3 cameras mounted to the front of the balcony with remote aiming would capture the images. The heart of the system would be mounted adjacent to the sound board. This computer-based console could also provide content to various bulletin boards throughout the church building. Estimate of the total system cost is $100,000. We will be requesting bids from several local firms for this project. The projected image would allow better visibility of the sermon, children’s time, baptisms, soloists, etc. Additional content can be projected for prior, during, and after the service. Usage will be developed by the Worship Team.
Prayer Chapel (Cathy Townley report, page 6)
How many of you are aware that UUMC has a prayer chapel? Know where it is? If you haven’t visited Tennant Chapel, feel free to visit on Sunday morning. Go straight through the door next to the pulpit and the chapel will be ahead of you. The Facility Task Force is discussing how to best implement Cathy Townley's recommendations regarding prayer chapels and where an additional chapel could be located. We do not anticipate making any changes to the existing Tennant Chapel.
Chancel Area (Cathy Townley report, pages 6 and 7)
This is a redesign process. We still need the function of a pulpit and lectern, but they can be smaller and portable. We are also considering how to make the Lord’s Table portable to increase the flexibility of the worship space. This is a tandem effort with the Worship Team. Look for updates in the near future.
Recommendations Recap (Cathy Townley report, page 10)
Cathy makes an excellent point in her recap list at the end of her report: "Count the cost for repurposing your space with screens and repositioning where kids meet (ﬁnancial, emotional and spiritual). Count the cost if you do nothing. Which will be more costly?" I admit, my initial reaction to the scope of change and the price of construction for those two actions involved only $$ signs. In terms of the cost of inaction, the cost of action is small. Look for a fundraiser in the near future.
I will be back in August for additional Facilities updates.
On Thursday, May 25th at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary the Vital Church Initiative Leadership Team and the leaders of our various task forces will be available to offer updates on what they have accomplished and what is coming up in the near term. Each task force leader will give a brief overview of their prescription and the work being done. Following that there will be a time for questions and responses.
William C. Bills, Pastor
The church conference is the highest governing authority in a United Methodist congregation. It is normally convened every year in the fall. The district superintendent calls and convenes the church conference. It is to be announced twice in worship. Printed notice is also given to the congregation, usually through the bulletin and/or newsletter.
Church members attending the called church conference constitute the quorum required for voting. Members present at this conference are authorized to set the pastor’s salary, housing and furnishings allowance. They may also vote to remove church members from the rolls. The church conference also votes on the election of officers and other leaders. The church conference may also vote on building and property matters such as buying or selling property or taking out a mortgage.
Between church conferences, the administrative board acts as the governing body of the church. The various committees and work areas are all accountable to and report to the administrative board. But the authority of the church conference supersedes that of the administrative board.
On Sunday, October 23, 2016, Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, Lansing District Superintendent, convened a special church conference for the purpose of voting on our Vital Church Initiative report and prescriptions. The vote was 127 yes, 26 no and 1 abstention. That vote authorized the pastor and our VCI coach, Naomi Garcia, to form task forces for the purpose of implementing the VCI prescriptions.
It is important to note that the vote authorized the task forces to implement their prescriptions. Task forces may study their prescriptions and recommend various methods of implementation. If implementation requires money not currently in the budget or changes to the physical plant, the task force will have to work with the finance committee and the trustees to implement their prescriptions. The task forces don’t have to secure permission to implement their prescriptions, though, as that was already given them with the October 23, 2016, vote.
Monthly meetings have been scheduled with task force leaders and the Vital Church Initiative Team to insure that they communicate about the implementation of prescriptions. On the fourth Thursday of every month, at 7:00 p.m., a VCI progress update meeting will be held in the sanctuary. This is being done so that anyone interested in learning about the implementation process can receive updates about what is being done and what is being planned. The congregation is encouraged to come to these meetings to both receive information and ask questions.
by Diane Constan
Chair, Second Service Research Task Force
Prescription 3 of our Vital Church Initiative report addresses the Sunday morning experience at UUMC. Item C-3 of that prescription directs the formation of a task force to investigate the possibility of adding a second worship service. In addition, Cathy Townley's report from her visit earlier this year also includes a recommendation that UUMC investigate the possibility of starting an additional worship service.
The Second Service Research Team has started this process by enrolling in a training session entitled "New Services for New People" offered by the Michigan Area of the United Methodist Church to help churches learn how to reach more people as we fulfill our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Specifically, the "New Services for New People" training consists of ten modules that will help our team first decide if starting a second service is the right course for UUMC at this time and, if so, help us figure out the logistics of a new service and how to have a successful launch.
We are currently at the very beginning of the process, having gone through the first two modules of the program. We will continue to go through the modules over the coming months and will update you as we go along as to whether we believe UUMC is ready to start a second service. If you are interested in being part of this conversation, we invite you to join our team. Contact myself (email@example.com), Rev. Bill Bills (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Rev. Bill Chu (email@example.com) for more information.
Prescription one in our Vital Church Initiative report addresses the alignment of vision, mission and values. Ministry alignment is important. All of our resources should be directed to carry out our mission. They should be used according to our stated values. Ministry alignment brings all areas of the church together to achieve our mission. Ministry alignment eliminates confusion and conflict. Ministry alignment moves the church forward with shared purpose and goals.
Item two in the prescription one states that “The pastor, in consultation with the coach, will recruit a ministry audit team of 3-4 people by April 30, 2017 to do the following:
1. Evaluate all ministries to determine their alignment with the vision, mission and values.
2. All ministries not in alignment by December 31, 2017 will be celebrated and dissolved at that time.”
This means that every fellowship group, small group, committee, board, ministry team, etc. must operate under our vision, mission and values. The ministry audit team will meet with every group in the church to hear from them how they plan to function within these parameters. Groups that are not presently functioning within the parameters of our vision, mission and values will have opportunity to come into alignment. Any group that chooses not to align itself with the vision, mission and values of University United Methodist Church is to be dissolved. This does not mean that groups not in alignment must cease to exist. It does mean that they will not receive priority when it comes to budgeting, publicity, building use and staff resources, or financial resources. Groups that choose not to align with our vision, mission and values, may continue to meet, work, etc. but they would no longer be considered official ministries of University United Methodist Church.
Our Ministry Audit Team members are Jay Makowski, Lisa Berg, Peter Berg and Rev. Bill Chu. They will soon be meeting with groups in our church to explain the importance of ministry alignment. They will also help groups that are not in alignment come into alignment. Their goal is not to dissolve or disband groups in our church. Their goal is to align all of our ministry under common themes of vision, mission and values.
On Monday, March 27 at 7:00 p.m., the Visioning Team will meet with all interested persons to review the new vision statement for our church. They will also review the process for arriving at the vision statement. The team will share their personal understanding of the particular words they have chosen. Our new vision statement is:
Daring one another to love God and our neighbor
Prescription 1.A.1 in our Vital Church Initiative report directs the pastor to name a vision team. It further directs the team to write a new vision statement for the church after holding three visioning workshops. The team has completed that work. They have determined that the vision for University United Methodist is: “Daring each other to love God and our neighbor.” The writing team would like to meet with the congregation at 7:00pm on Monday, March 27, to share their thoughts about the visioning workshops, their writing process and to answer questions about the new vision statement. Please plan to attend.
About 40 people have volunteered to be involved with the implementation of Vital Church Initiative prescriptions and the recommendations from Cathy Townley’s consultation report. We will gather in Asbury Hall on Tuesday, March 14, at 7:00 p.m. for an organizational meeting. The purpose of this gathering is to break down the prescriptions and recommendations into manageable projects and make certain people are involved in the areas most important to them.
If you want to be involved but haven’t expressed an interest yet, please join us. For more VCI information, see University UMC's website: UniversityChurchHome. org. You may also ask any VCI Leadership Team member, or contact Pastor Bill at 517.351.7030 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Our recent worship consultation with Cathy Townley gave me pause for thought about my call to ministry. I realize now how far afield I have gotten from that call. My home church was very engaged in justice issues. They were politically involved. New to Christianity thirty-five years ago, I assumed that was normal. That influenced my call to ministry.
When I arrived at seminary in 1985, my first assignment was to exegete Isaiah 1.10-17. “Exegesis” is research performed on text, history, culture and language to arrive at understanding which is then applied to one’s present context.
The message of Isaiah 1.10-17 is that God’s people were doing all manner of things in worship and thinking they were good. God, according to Isaiah, wasn’t happy about their worship, though. People were worshiping while neglecting to do good in society. So they received a stern rebuke from Isaiah for failing to “… seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Worship in the sanctuary was lost on God when people were not engaged in ministry with the marginalized. Worship in the sanctuary has to carry over to witness in the community. That was very clear to me in 1985. Since then I have gotten caught up in all kinds of other things, mostly of lesser importance.
Many churches are in decline and tweak mission and vision statements. Others add a screen, hire a band, or redecorate the sanctuary. I am sure that it is important to update things at least once or twice each century. Especially if we want to reach newer and younger people. On the other hand, the things that Isaiah said God wants never go out of style. It’s possible to revitalize and grow a church just by doing what God wants for the marginalized in society. I used to be pretty clear about that, but for some reason, I have spent years on worship styles, budgets and buildings, and not enough time on ministry at the margins of society. Being better engaged outside the sanctuary could have positive influence on what happens inside the sanctuary. Faithfulness outside the sanctuary might be more important to God than what we do inside the sanctuary.
~ By Pastor William Bills
I understand most of our members and friends attend our church precisely because they like what happens here. These people support our church with time, talents, monetary and other gifts because they like what happens here. The longer we are a part of a congregation, the more affinity we develop for traditions, special events, worship services, music, programs and people. We wouldn’t keep coming back if we didn’t like what happens here. But when our priority becomes only what prefer we may lose contact with our mission field.
This is my fifth year working with the Vital Church Initiative (VCI). About two and a half years ago, I began asking people if they thought VCI was fun for me. People were coming with concerns and questions (even complaints!) about VCI and the prospect of change. It occurred to me that perhaps they thought I was enjoying causing them some discomfort. So I decided to start reminding people that change isn’t easy for those who lead, either. My goal in VCI isn’t to make anybody’s life difficult. My goal is to be faithful. My goal is to do the best thing for the church for the long-term. My goal is to be faithful to my call even if that makes some people uncomfortable. Sometimes being faithful means doing new things with new people in new ways. Being faithful requires saying yes when it would be more comfortable to say no.
I hope you will say yes to “Just Say, Yes!” “Just Say, Yes!” is a six-week study beginning the week of January 22. It covers the ways that churches may say no to their mission field by resisting new things, focusing on rules, policies, buildings, worship styles and tradition. “Just Say, Yes!” demonstrates that churches have other options. Churches can give people permission to try new things. Churches can encourage leaders to be bold in giving permission for new ministries and programs. “Just Say, Yes!” challenges faithful people to change their attitudes, behaviors and assumptions in order to better serve their mission field. Such changes are not easy. Nor are they fun. But they help congregations connect with their changing mission fields in new ways.
I hope you will say yes to “Just Say, Yes!” This study and discussion might open our congregation up to new possibilities. It might help us become more effective in reaching people around us. It might make us even more faithful in our ministry to our community. It could end up being more fun than you imagine.