The Healthy Church Initiative is a process, not a program. It takes the church through steps, led by our own local trained people (facilitators, coaches, and consultants) from North Texas.The Large Church Initiative of the HCI process focuses on churches with mid- to large-sized congregations. Through a combination of shared learning experiences, coaching and consultation, this process helps congregations more effectively join God in God’s mission. After having successfully implemented this process in the Missouri Annual Conference for several years, we are bringing this process of transformation to the North Texas Conference.
Phase 1: Shared Learning Experience: HCI believes that transformation does not happen just by adopting a program, but it starts with the development of leadership. During the first eight months, in Continuous Learning Groups called Lay Leadership Development (LLD) and Pastoral Leadership Development (PLD), both lay persons and pastors develop their leadership by learning the best practices of ministry through a curriculum, studying current ministry books on best practices, and discussing their own experiences and what they’ve learned with their peers. In addition to the leadership development groups, the pastors receive one-on-one coaching sessions on the phone, six times during the period of eight months of PLD.
Phase 2: Consultation/Intervention Process: Once a church goes through the first step of leadership development, it may choose whether or not to move on to the weekend consultations. If a church chooses to go through a weekend consultation, the church will first prepare for six months. The preparation includes things such as self-study, demographic studies using www.missioninsite.com participation in the mystery guest program, pre-consultation workshops for the church, and creation of a leadership team and prayer team. Also, the pastors will start participating in the Peer Mentoring groups with pastors who are also going through the same process at their churches. All these will prepare the church for the weekend consultation, and make it more able to understand and execute the prescriptions necessary to bring renewal and growth to the church. During the weekend consultation, a team of trained consultants from the conference will come and interview staff and laity, and lead focus groups for in-depth analysis to arrive at 3 to 5 key congregational prescriptions for change that can lead to fruitfulness and growth. Furthermore, once the church receives the prescriptions, they will have several town hall meetings to vote upon them. If they vote to accept all of the prescriptions, then the church moves on to Phase 3, Implementation.
Phase 3: Implementation of Prescriptions: Churches who accept the recommendations receive on-going congregational coaching for 18 months. This will be in the form of on-site directive coaching, where the coach will come to the church and work with the pastor, staff, and the laity to assure completion of the prescriptions. Finally, the pastors of these churches will also meet in a monthly Peer Mentoring group with other pastors who are going through their prescriptions during this time. They will study core curricula to learn about best practices, hold each other accountable, and help each other build spiritual foundations.
All of this content is borrowed from The Center for New Church Development and Congregational Transformation, which is part of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.