12 May 2017

Progress in the Healthy Church Initiative


Grace UMC recently decided to continue in the Healthy Church Initiative. If that doesn't ring a church bell for you, click here. It's been a very exciting process. The layfolk at Grace leading us through the Healthy Church Initiative are Tom Busby, Janet Chester, Stephen Clayton, Frank Holcomb, Carol Kennedy, John Murphy, Carolyn and Jim Nicholson, Cindy Pressley, and Jim Williams. These are amazing, dedicated people who love Grace. It's been wonderful just to listen and learn from their various perspectives. We've read six books together and met once a month to discuss how they apply to Grace. The lay team meets monthly with a similar team from Leonard UMC. Likewise, I meet monthly with a clergy group of pastors of several churches, each with very different histories and experiences. Both of those groups are led by a trained Healthy Church Initiative facilitator.

How can you get involved? Thanks for asking! Join in the conversation. Ask questions of the people named above. They are eager to share. Buy one of the books we read and form your own thoughts of how the ideas there may impact Grace UMC. Here's the reading list:

Renovate or Die- Bob Farr
Clip In: Risking Hospitality in Your Church- Jim Ozier and Fiona Haworth
The Externally Focused Church – Rick Rusaw & Eric Swanson
Get Their Name -Doug Anderson, Bob Farr, Kay Kotan
Simple Church
 -Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger
Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results– Lovett H.Weems, Jr. & Tom Berlin


You can also join the prayer team we are forming for the Healthy Church Initiative. You can email Carolyn Nicholson to sign up! (I think she's the contact person; if not, she'll point you in the correct direction.) 🙂

To get an idea for where the process may lead us (it's not set in stone; who knows where the Holy Spirit will move Grace?), here are some sample guidelines for the prayer team to pray over:

  • The congregation embraces an outward-focused mission that puts the spiritual needs of those in the community above the need of the congregation.
  • For a compelling vision that will motivate and drive the congregation to great acts of ministry.
  • That the congregation sees the urgency for such a mission and vision.
  • The pastor and one or two key lay leaders should communicate this type of purpose each time the team meets.
  • Pray for the community needs and officials. Be specific if there are clear issues that are part of the community conversation or agenda. Pray for the community leaders by name (i.e. Fire Chief so and so, Chief of Police so and so, etc.). List as many officials as possible.
  • Pray for the changes that are needed, that we might “embrace” them and be willing and able to make these changes. Pray for the community to be impacted by the church like never.
  • Pray for unchurched. Pray in general that unchurched people in your community can find Christ through this church. Pray specifically for unchristian friends you know. Pray that you and your church will find ways to invite these people and to make it comfortable for them to explore what Jesus and God and church are all about.

I am very excited about where this process will lead us as a church. I have already seen changes in how these leaders are engaged with the congregation. Multiply that by everyone who worships here and we will be much more effective in reaching a new generation with the love of Jesus Christ!

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