Grace UMC Perscriptions
We, the Healthy Church Initiative Consultation team, would like to thank Rev. Frank Drenner, staff, lay leadership, and the congregation of Grace United Methodist Church, for the invitation to consult with this body of Christ. The following observations and prescriptions are the result of this team studying the following information: a) Grace UMC’s self-study document provided by its leaders, b) completion of the on-line congregational survey by the church members, c) interviews with the staff and leaders, d) input from focus groups, e) a MissionInsite demographic report of the area’s population, f) input from the Faith Perceptions Mystery Guest Worshipper Report, and g) input from the Saturday workshop.
Our prayer is that God will use this consultation report to help Grace UMC more effectively make
disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the community and the world.
According to what we have heard you tell us, Grace UMC’s greatest areas of strength are as follows:
1. Mission Mindedness
Grace UMC has a rich history of mission work both locally and in other parts of the world. Some
community ministries and missions mentioned included Meals on Wheels, trips to Sager Brown,
Youth mission trips, Grace Legal Aid clinic, Wakefield Elementary school partnership, building
wheelchair ramps, a trip to Guatemala to name a few. The consultation team heard your desire to
continue to reach out in the community.
2. Sense of family
Fellowship and friendship are evident at Grace UMC, by members and guests alike. We heard you
say the “family” atmosphere is one of the best qualities of this church. The mystery worshippers
affirmed the friendliness and welcoming atmosphere of the congregation. As one person said, “If
there was an award for the friendliest church this church would win it hands down.”
3. Welcoming Congregation
The church’s welcome goes beyond a warm handshake and friendly word to a sense of belonging. A
mystery guest commented: “We were warmly welcomed the moment we entered the building. As we walked into the sanctuary, the pastor noticed us and immediately came to shake our hands and
welcome us to service.” Another mystery guest shared, “After the service ended, my self-appointed
guide again welcomed me to the church and said he would look for me in a few minutes to see if I
wanted to go to Sunday school but if he did not see me that was ok, too.” We heard from your most
recent new members that “Welcoming” is one of the main reasons they stayed.
Grace UMC is in a wonderful location within this mission field to both serve and reach the local
community. The church is located in an area near neighborhoods with expected growth in population. You told us about the new Walmart that recently opened nearby. We were excited to hear about the new high school to be built as well as the new housing developments. The location has easy access to a major highway and will be less than 10 miles from the Apple, Finisar company, which is planning to bring 500+ new jobs to the area. Grace UMC will have opportunities for outreach, collaboration, and transforming lives.
The consultation team heard in our interviews about the generosity of this congregation, and its desire to become a growing and outreaching community of faith. We heard of the generosity for Hurricane Harvey relief, the purchase of new chairs for the worship area, the recent completion of the remodeling of the nursery area, and that when a need arises the congregation rallies to meet the need. As one person said, “When we’ve asked people for additional help they’ve dug deeper into their pockets.”
According to what we’ve heard you tell us, Grace UMC is ready to embrace change (even if there is some resistance) and live into its full potential. Even so, the congregation expressed the following areas of concern:
1. Unifying Vision
The bulletin indicates the vision for Grace UMC as “God’s grace empowers us to understand the
needs of others, transforming the community as we engage all people with the unconditional love of
Jesus Christ.” However, we heard you say the congregation lacks ownership and knowledge of the
vision nor is it guiding the activities and programs of the church. To take advantage of emerging
opportunities for growth, we need to, “All be on the same page rowing in the same direction,” in the
words of one person. There is a need to clarify and wholly affirm God’s unique vision and mission for this church to “make disciples of Jesus Christ.”
2. Communication & Growth Strategy
A need for improved communication between ministry areas, staff/ leadership and the congregation
was also expressed. The Mystery Guest report reveals it is difficult to navigate the website looking for newcomer information, such as worship times, events and children/youth programs. We heard from one newer member that it was unclear how to get added to the church email list and another person stated it was difficult to find a centralized location of information. In the focus group it was lifted up that the church has a desire to grow but lacks a strategy.
3. Lack of a Discipleship Pathway
Interviews and the focus groups revealed that there is a need for a clear and simple process for growing new and seasoned Christians in their faith journey. You spoke of Bible studies offered, small groups and Sunday school opportunities; yet we heard you say there is a lack of a process to grow disciples into Christian maturity.
4. Bridging to the Community
The consultation team salutes the many outreach mission efforts of Grace UMC. We heard that there aren’t intentional strategies to bridge people back into the church. Even, for instance, we heard 40% of Vacation Bible School attendees don’t get involved with the church. We heard expressed frustration that the church’s mission activities fall short of its potential of connecting the community with the church. There is an opportunity to do outreach work with the distinct intention of inviting new people to Sunday morning worship.
We have heard there is not a formal group addressing current and future building needs. The
consultation team heard a consistent desire for a “Large space to gather together.” One person said,
“I think we like where we are but wouldn’t it be cool if we could move forward in the next step?”
Although we don’t want to think of church as being in competition, you told us, “There are churches
in the area building new buildings or doing remodeling; some other churches have more updated
facilities. A “Wow” factor!” We hear a desire to expand to meet the current and future needs of the
On the day this consultation report is accepted, the congregation will reaffirm The United Methodist Church mission, “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
The congregation will schedule a service of Prayer and Preparation to center the congregation on the work God is calling the church to do. This will be coordinated by Rev. Frank Drenner, in consultation with the coach, on April 15, 2018.
1. Unifying Vision
The Mission is what we do and the Vision is how we do it in this time and place. The pastor, in
consultation with the coach, will create a Vision Team of 5-7 people before March 31, 2018. A
Visioning Workshop for the Vision Team and key leadership will be conducted by the coach and/or a trained professional by the end of May 2018. These persons will define the new vision in a clear,
concise and cohesive statement. The new vision will provide direction for the congregation to work as a unified church. The vision will be completed and blessed by the Administrative Council and then presented to the congregation by the end of May 2018. Following the affirmation of the new vision, the pastor, in consultation with the coach, will select a Ministry Review team of 3-5 people, by May 30, 2018 to conduct a Ministry, Program and Activity review to help align all of the programs and activities to the new vision. Every Ministry, Program, and Activity in the congregation must demonstrate how it will accomplish the vision and mission. Any
new Ministry, Program or Activity needs to be aligned with the new vision. This review will be
completed by August 15, 2018.
2. Communication & Growth Strategy
The pastor, in consultation with the coach, will create a Communications team of 3-5 persons by
March 31, 2018, that will develop a communication strategy mindful of:
website and social media presence for the church (this may require finding a local
communication professional to assist)
diverse political and cultural makeup of the church and the greater community.
The pastor, in consultation with the coach, will create a Growth Strategy Taskforce of 3-7 persons,
including at least one youth and one young adult, by June 30, 2018 which will generate an action plan to include such steps as:
growth goals that will be presented to the church
meeting with the new high school officials
outreach to the new housing developments
meeting with the new businesses coming into the area
The Growth Strategy Taskforce action plan will be presented in a church meeting with the
Administrative Council present before September 30, 2018. (Because church structure is often related to growth we recommend that the Growth Strategy Taskforce begin to explore simplified organizational structures, such as a Single Board Structure, for possible recommendation in the Fall of 2018.)
3. Lack of Discipleship Pathway
Because we learned from the Mystery Guest report that first time guest retention is low, and because discipleship begins with meeting people where they are, getting them to come to worship and retaining them in the life of the church as they grow in discipleship… The Pastor, in consultation with the Coach, will create a Retention/Discipleship Team of 3-5 people to assess and create a clear retention/discipleship pathway for moving people from where they are on their spiritual journey to becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ by January 15, 2019. The HCI consultation team recommends as a resource From Membership to Discipleship, Phil Maynard or Stride, Creating a Discipleship Pathway, Ken Willard.
Grace UMC’s Discipleship Pathway will be designed for everyone, at all ministry levels, with
an intentional plan of producing mature disciples. This pathway will represent a lifelong
process grounded in our Wesleyan heritage, Social Principles, and the United Methodist
Theological Task that encourages all persons:
o to connect and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ
o to help them be transformed by studying the principles of the Christian faith
o to provide connection opportunities with other believers for support and accountability
o to be in service with others for the purpose of the mission of the United Methodist
o and to live a generous life
This Retention/Discipleship Pathway will be adopted and presented to the entire congregation
during a church wide meeting. It will be implemented into the life of Grace UMC at all
ministry levels (children, youth and adults) by June 30, 2019.
The HCI team recommends as a resource Clip In (Jim Ozier and Fiona Haworth.) We
recommend a church wide Hospitality workshop led by Rev. Dr. Jim Ozier by August 30,
4. Bridging to the Community
A bridge event is an activity specifically designed to appeal to people in the community and build
relationships through which it would be appropriate to invite them to Sunday morning worship as part of or follow-up to that activity. The pastor, in consultation with the Coach, will appoint a 5-7 person Bridge Team to lead and facilitate the “building of bridges to the community” by April 15, 2018. This team will design and execute three quarterly bridge events over the next 12 months. These events, which will happen in the greater community, will provide clear and direct invitations to a corresponding Sunday worship experience. This team will have its first meeting before April 30, 2018 and begin to lay out the process for helping all activities, programs and ministries connect those outside the congregation to the faith community.
In conjunction with the Coach and Pastor this team will review Get Their Name (Bob Farr, Doug
Anderson and Kay Kotan). Calendaring of the bridging events should be completed by July 31, 2018.
The Pastor, in consultation with the Coach, will name a Facilities Study team by December 1,
2018. This team will assess the current facilities in light of the ministry needs of the congregation and the community to determine how the facilities are adequate and inadequate to meet those needs. This team will also work to project costs. This team will present their findings during a church meeting with the Trustees by Feb 15, 2019. The decision to move forward would be determined by the Administrative Council. At which time, a Capital Campaign/ Feasibility Study will be done to assess the churches financial readiness and financial capacity.
We, the consultation team, want to thank you for the opportunity to serve your congregation through this Healthy Church Initiative assessment process. Our prayer and hope for your congregation is that God will use this process to help your church become more effective and fruitful. May God give you courage and strength as you move forward.
Rev. Jim Ozier, Lead Consultant
Rev. Edlen Cowley, Coach
Debbie Sutton, Scribe
Liliana Rengal, HCI Coordinator
Rev. Todd Harris, Consultant
Rev. Kaleb Rengal, Consultant
Town Hall Meeting Dates:
- February 25, 2018 at noon
Church Conference Date:
- March 18,2018 at noon