The Vital Church Initiative (VCI) is a process of renewal for growing healthy, vital, fruitful, missional congregations in the Michigan Area of the UMC.
The process includes:
- Developing a new vision and the strategy for its communication and implementation
- Motivating a congregation to embrace a new vision and mission
- Developing resources, ideas and personnel to prepare for change
- Embracing and implementing change
- Embedding a new DNA into the life of a congregation
- Providing new tools and training to be the church for the 21st century
- Providing prescriptions for action
UUMC is part of the VCI Larger Church Path, designed for congregations with an average worship attendance greater than 100.
The Larger Church Path is a team-based, leadership development discovery process to help churches more effectively fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
- Helps develop a church’s leadership base to provide it with greater strength.
- Helps a church discern what next steps it needs to take in order to be more fruitful and effective.
- Helps growing churches move to even greater effectiveness.
- Provides plateaued or declining churches with a strategy and a coach to move forward.
- Allows leaders to customize the directions and outcomes to fit their church’s particular ministry context.
- Is NOT a “cookie-cutter” approach.
Phase I: Shared Learning Experience
In Phase I, our Travel Team will meet with teams from other similarly sized churches for nine Saturday learning sessions. The team members learn key concepts and best practices and apply them to their own lives in order to develop as church leaders. The goal is to develop a cadre of leaders to help UUMC more effectively carry out our mission and become more fruitful. A VCI coach works with the pastor during the process.
Our Travel team includes the following members: Dan Cummings, Susan Curtis, Karin Dillon, Becky Jost, Andy Kilpatrick, Pete Marvin, Marilyn Rothert, Rev. Jennifer Browne, Rev. Galen Goodwin. We meet with teams from the following churches: Portage Chapel Hill UMC, Grand Rapids Trinity UMC, Marshall UMC, Okemos Community Church.
- Jan -Session 1 – Orientation
- Feb - Session 2 – Life Cycle
- Mar - Session 3 – Our World Has Changed
- Apr - Session 4 – Conflict: Co-Causal for Good
- May - Session 5 – Leading, Teaching, Preaching
- Aug - Session 6 – Real Life Evangelism
- Sep -Session 7 – Focusing for Transformation
- Oct - Session 8 – Focusing Outward
- Nov - Session 9 – Phase II Orientation: Peer Mentoring, Consultation Event, Prescriptions
Each Saturday session is five hours long and consists of teaching, spiritual reflection, interaction with the ideas and concepts and group sharing. Between sessions team members read a book each month pertaining to each session’s topic. The team also meets between sessions for debriefing and to plan Home Team gatherings.
The Home Team gatherings will be designed to convey some of the learnings from the Saturday sessions to as many UUMC members and friends as wish to participate. The Travel Team also hopes to receive feedback and ideas from Home Team meetings that can be incorporated into our work. Depending on interest, there may be one or more Home Team opportunities each month.
Phase II: Consultation Event and Peer Mentoring
Phase II is approximately five months long and culminates in a Consultation Event which provides five strategic recommendations, called prescriptions, for UUMC to pursue in order to move to even greater effectiveness. During the five-month period Pastor Jennie will be a part of a peer mentoring group, the church will do a pre-assessment report, participate in a workshop, and a series of mystery guests will visit our worship services.
Once Phase I is completed, the Phase I facilitators (Rev. Molly Turner and Rev. Colleen Treman), VCI staff, coach and District Superintendent will discern who will be invited to Phase II.
Steps toward the Consultation Event:
- Once invited to participate in Phase II, an affirmative vote by the UUMC Administrative Board of the church must take place.
- The Consultation Event date is scheduled.
- A coach is assigned to Pastor Jennie and the Pre-Consultation Workshop is scheduled.
- We create a Prayer Team
- A new VCI Team is recruited or the existing team continues to shepherd the VCI process. This team is responsible for the Self-Study preparation.