Skip to main content

Healthy Church Initiative


A couple of weeks ago I participated in a sort of reunion group with other pastors celebrating significant milestones in ministry (it was my 15th anniversary as an Elder in the church). We talked about our approaches to preaching. I said one of my guiding principles in preaching is simplicity. That when I prepare a sermon, I try to bring one person one message. When I am thinking/writing about Sunday's message, I try to envision how one person would hear what I am trying to say. What would I want that one person to contemplate throughout the week?

One message. One person.

The other night Grace's Administrative Council voted unanimously to participate in the North Texas Conference's Healthy Church Initiative. We were invited to go through this process, not because Grace is unhealthy, but to help us better focus on reaching our community for Christ. Grace has an amazing ministry that reaches many people through various avenues, but it's hard to point to a unifying direction for where we are going. This process will hopefully put us on a good track going forward.

This effort will not replace other learning/goals/core values/etc Grace has adopted in recent years. We are not reinventing the wheel here, just trying to bring focus. So thinking about the ministry of the whole church: How might it look if we had one message for one person?

The HCI process has been used by churches from forty different conferences since 2008-- so it is not just a North Texas Conference deal. It is not led by a single out of state consultant. Our church will join other churches from the various districts of the conference. As we continue in the process, we'll pick up new resources and strategies for doing ministry. Or we may decide that Phase One was all we need for now. Here's a timeline for HCI:

Phase 1
January - June 2017. 10-12 layfolk, plus Pastor Leon and myself, will meet with others from different churches around the conference. We will all read the same books, then meet to discuss and learn best practices from each other. These meetings will be once a month for 3-4 hours. We'll read a total of six books. At the end of Phase 1 these leaders will meet with Grace's Administrative Council to share insights from the process. A decision will be made to move on to Phase 2 or not. We are not obligated to continue.

Phase 2
Assuming we do continue, we'll partner with Dr Jim Ozier of the conference, who will be a consultant. We'll also be assigned a coach, most likely a retired pastor. We'll work with those individuals for a deeper study of Grace: finances, vision, goals, conversations with leaders, etc. The conference will send a "mystery guest," an unchurched person, to join us for worship and check out the website to get an idea of how our church speaks to those beyond its walls. This phase culminates in a weekend seminar led by clergy and laity from across the conference. We'll receive a report, which among other things will highlight five strengths and weaknesses. Phase 2 is held during the Spring of the year following Phase 1, so early 2018.

Phase 3
If we continue past Phase 2, and every church that has participated in this process has done so, we'll have a time of implementation of whatever learning we have received. This takes about a year.

So the HCI process is sort of nebulous at the beginning. It's a handful of people from Grace learning from/with a handful of others from different churches. As we go further in the process, we tailor it to best fit Grace's needs. This is not a generic approach to revving up ministry. I'm excited that we enthusiastically agreed to go forward with this. I invite you to pray for Grace UMC, as we seek to better serve the needs of our community by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

If you are interested in serving on the HCI team, or in another leadership position in the church, let me know. Or click here to complete a ministry survey. And don't forget to sign up for our new picture directory!

All grace is amazing!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

Grief Is a Powerful Thing

"So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our own selves." 1 Thessalonians 2:8
My first couple of Sundays at Grace, early in July, a couple of different people asked me this question immediately before worship: "How are you feeling?" My response: "Terrified." This was met with sort of shocked looks, then afterward the same person would say something like, "See that was ok." I've always been nervous before preaching-- the ramped up nerves help me to focus on my task and give me energy. But this seemed stronger. On Saturday nights my first couple of months at Grace I would hear an inner critic saying, "You're not prepared." "You're going to bomb today." Most Sundays he was wrong. A couple of sermons did bomb, but that happens. I decided to seek out a spiritual director to help me discern what was going on with me. I knew it was internal, but couldn…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…