By Andy Kilpatrick
Vital Church Initiative Leadership Team
Faith in Action report in Sunday worship
June 5, 2016
To date, the VCI process may seem like just a lot of questions for a wonky visioning process, to which many may say “been there, done that, nothing happened.” Others may say “things are just fine, why are we even talking about this?”
Comparing the church to a university might provide some context for the need for a process like VCI. Where would Michigan State University be today, or in 5 to 10 years, if almost all the students’ parents had attended the school and one of the primary ways students found out about the school was through their parents? What if MSU weren’t in the news or on TV, didn’t send information to prospective students, have events on campus, or engage the community.
This is the reality of most mainline Protestant churches. We do a good job focusing on our members, but have a harder time reaching outside our doors.
Does MSU do its outreach and sharing simply to keep students and money flowing in, or because it has something to offer that can change people’s lives?
More questions to ponder: Do we feel what we are doing here is changing people’s lives? Are we excited about what’s going on at UUMC? Does this church challenge you and help you reach out to others in need and those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus? What does “being the church” mean to you?
The process to date may seem like lots of questions and no answers. There will be more questions coming, but you will also start to see some insights. On June 19, a printed summary of responses to the questions asked during the worship service in May will be available.
There will not be a lot of visible activity from VCI over the next couple months as we finishing gathering data for a weekend event in mid-September where an outside consultation team goes over the data gathered and uses this information to develop a set of recommendations for our church --- recommendations to help UUMC become even more effective as a church. When presented with these recommendations, our congregation gets to decide whether or not we want to implement them.
VCI IS a church building process, but its goal is not to increase giving or attendance, or make sure we have enough members in the choir to continue to have great music on Sunday. These may be outcomes, however, the bottom line is that VCI is a process to help UUMC determine who we are as a church, who our community is, and how we can continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
So enjoy your summer and keep on the lookout for information from the VCI team. For the fall, get ready to hear the recommendations of the consultation team, discern whether we agree with the recommendations, and then work together to move our church forward.