The church as a living, dynamic spiritual body is constantly evolving and seeking to adapt to the changing needs of its members and society. Recent upheavals in our world have accelerated changes in our churches that were already underway, thrusting us into a season of transformation and sparking fresh expressions of faith. The success of our congregations through this new season will depend on the deliberate choices and new directions we choose to embrace.
In 2008 it caused quite a stir when religious scholar Phyllis Tickle introduced the concept of the Great Emergence, suggesting that Christianity undergoes significant changes roughly every 500 years. In 2023, for the faithful pastors and members of our churches, it seems like we are indeed living through one of these pivotal, emergent periods.
As we stand at this crossroads, both clergy and laity alike are asking, “What is next for our congregation? How can we honor our spiritual heritage while forging a hopeful future?”
In these transformative times it’s essential to have a roadmap for the next steps. Pathways to Congregational Fruitfulness & Healthcan be that roadmap to help your congregationreach its fullest potential in ministry and mission. Pathways isn’t just a program; it’s a promise of renewal with the power to reshape not only individual churches but also the very communities they serve.
Over the last year, over 100 churches in both EPA and GNJ have enrolled in Pathways. These are churches of all sizes, in all kinds of settings, with different passions, gifts and desired outcomes. They have engaged in candid, and at times challenging, conversations, delving into what has changed in their congregations and what might be hindering them from taking the next faithful step.
Finding new ways to connect with neighbors
Churches participating in Pathways right now are finding new ways to connect with their neighbors, right sizing their budgets and addressing how to work through disagreements. These congregations have become champions of missional living and are imagining new ways to use their buildings.
This dedication to growth and renewal is a reminder to the inner strength and spiritual resilience of our church communities. Through Pathways, these congregations are not just facing change; they are embracing it. And their stories are shaping the future of ministry in EPA and GNJ. Their stories remind us that faith can guide us through change with a profound sense of purpose.
Starting this fall, we’re rolling out Pathways as both a guided process and a self-led resource. Regardless of the direction it chooses, your congregation will work as a cohesive team under your pastor’s guidance.
Opting for the guided process entails partnering with a Pathwaysfacilitator who will work alongside your pastor to guide the process for your congregation. Or you can choose to move through the process yourselves, with your pastor guiding the journey through a series of probing questions and subsequent action steps for your church’s future.
If you find yourself uncertain about the best fit for your setting, no problem. You can schedule a call with one of our facilitators for a brainstorming session. For further assistance and guidance reach out to our Pathways champions, Steve Morton at email@example.com (EPA) or Gina Yeske at firstname.lastname@example.org (GNJ).
Your Pathways team will begin by evaluating present circumstances and future possibilities, while helping your church assess its strengths and obstacles. Then you will engage in visioning, planning and executing goals. This commitment demands time and dedication.
The planning, strategy-setting, and action-taking phases may extend from three to 18 months with ongoing efforts. As you complete initial goals, you’ll be ready to embrace new ones.
Pathways offers six distinct means to guide your congregation’s growth, vitality, and mission. These Pathways help you discern God’s calling, reverse decline, build on strengths, and align mission, goals, activities, people, and resources to help fulfill God’s purpose. Let’s take a glimpse into each pathway.
Congregational Vitality: If your congregation is eager to infuse fresh vitality into worship experiences, small groups, mission endeavors, welcoming newcomers, and fostering a culture of generosity, this pathway revitalizes these fundamental aspects of your congregation’s identity and purpose.
Sustainability: If your church seeks strategies for long-term sustainability, this pathway equips you with the tools to maintain physical infrastructure, strengthen leadership support, and fulfill ministry budgets, ensuring a solid foundation for your church’s future.
Community Engagement: If your goal is to build dynamic partnerships within your community and collaborate actively for a brighter shared future, this pathway is your ideal choice. It’s tailored for congregations committed to community development or aspiring to become a Hope Center.
Next Generation: Are you looking to inspire and nurture the faith of the next generation? This pathway empowers you to invest in youth ministry and cultivate future generations of disciples who not only connect and grow but also assume leadership roles within the church.
Journey of Hope: If your congregation is ready to take meaningful action toward fostering a more just and equitable society, the Journey of Hope pathway is designed for you. It courageously addresses racism as a sin against God and embarks on a transformative journey rooted in personal growth, profound understanding and a proactive dismantling of racial inequities.
Conflict Resolution: In cases where your congregation seeks guidance in resolving conflicts constructively while fostering harmony, the Conflict Resolution pathway is here to provide valuable support and strategies.
As we move into this new era, let us do so with hope and anticipation, united in unwavering commitment to the mission of the Church. The road ahead offers hope, and the opportunity for growth and renewal awaits your congregation. Together, we can create brighter, more connected and more impactful communities for all. Let us step forward with faith, for this is our time, and the pathway toward transformation awaits us.
Sign up for Pathways and be part of a transformative process that leverages your strengths, fosters collaboration, and empowers you to create meaningful change.
This isn’t just about your church; it’s about your community, your mission, and mobilizing your faith in action. We look forward to partnering with you in this exciting endeavor. If you have any questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Address all questions to Megan McKay, Resource Manager at email@example.com.