We are all called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The Office of Congregational Development and Transformation has the privilege of resourcing and supporting our local churches to live out that mission of making disciples in their communities.
Just as we have a life cycle as human beings, churches also go through a life cycle. Is your church growing? Experiencing a plateau or declining? The Office of Congregational Development and Transformation works with churches in all stages of their life cycle.
Our office provides the following initiatives to meet the needs of our churches. We have an initiative to birth new churches through church planting. We also have the Church Transformation Process, Black Church Vitality, and NP2: New Places for New People. All of these initiatives are to help our churches be more effective and fruitful, whether they are currently growing, plateaued, or declining. Finally, the Legacy Church Process is for churches discerning options at the end of their life cycle.
In all the work that we do for our churches, our goal is to help create new life cycles and renew existing ones, so our Louisiana churches can continue to grow and thrive by making new and mature disciples of Jesus Christ!
Through the Church Transformation Process, key leaders in churches spend time learning the best practices for growing a healthy congregation.
Led by consultants trained by our office, these churches go through an extensive self-study and onsite consultation to examine their current reality and potential. These churches receive recommendations to enhance the focus on their mission and vision for making new and seasoned disciples of Jesus Christ, and for building relationships with their community by meeting the needs and inviting people to connect to the life of the church.
We realize that black churches have unique circumstances and situations.
As a result, The Black Church Vitality Task Force was formed to empower and grow our African-American Churches.
This past year, we have trained and resourced over 200 clergy and laity. We've had three workshops where we learned about setting a clear mission and vision for our churches, developing strategic plans for worship, hospitality, invitation, retention, and how to engage our communities thru social media and community outreach/engagement.
Our goal is to continue developing programs and initiatives that will strengthen our black churches and make them more vital.
We will offer scholarship grants for coaching inside our African American churches to implement and supplement the coaching they receive from our office.
On September 21st, we will host our next workshop called "Leadership Development in the African American Context" with William Chaney who has served on the General Board of Discipleship. This workshop will be at Newman UMC in Alexandria.
Read more about our September 21st training at Newman United Methodist Church in Alexandria.
There are two sides to the coin of church growth. As a conference, we need to renew and transform our existing churches, and at the same time we also need to plant new churches and new faith communities to spread the good news of Jesus Christ all throughout Louisiana. When we can do these two things well, we will see the expansion of God's Kingdom through the Methodist movement in Louisiana. Planting a church is like birthing a baby. It is not an easy endeavor, but we know that there is a great reward when that baby is born.
Church planters put in endless hours connecting with their mission field and reaching new people for Jesus Christ, with the hope of reaching yet more people, all the while facing the uncertainty of how it's all going to work out; and walking this path that only few people have walked.
It is our prayer that new church plants take root well, and grow to lead many to Christ and multiply themselves to reach even more people for Jesus Christ.
This is for individuals, or for a team in an existing church, to create a new opportunity for those that are outside of the church to experience community, encounter Jesus, and take that next step of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ! What are you passionate about? Do you play tennis? Love coffee? Exercise? Dogs? Food? What if I tell you that all of these passions can help you reach new people and share the love of Jesus within the community? We are encouraging you to take risks and experiment in creating community with people who share common interests with you!
Our office wants to challenge all of our churches, our laity, and groups within the church to start new kinds of fresh worship expression or outreach that meets where people are, so they can experience community and grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Through these New Places for New People, lost people will be found, children will experience God's love, lonely people will find community, poor people will be served, and justice will be brought into these communities.
Not all churches retain the capacity to transform, reinvent themselves, or start new things to reach new people.
We also have a process to help you discern where your church is in its life cycle, what options are available for you, and what steps you may take to celebrate your decades of ministry while helping to launch a new expression of church life that will honor your historic legacy.
If this process is for your church, please reach out to us so that we can walk alongside you in this process.
For more information on any of the above initiatives, please contact the Church Transformation Office.