Church Transformation

Dave HermanWe’ve spent the last three days listening to Dave Herman, a pastor from Florida and a representative of DNA Coaching, as he taught on church transformation. The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is in the beginning stages of a process that will take at least three years.
Why the transformation work? The simplest way to put it is that our churches have not been fulfilling the Great Commission. While the population of the region has been growing over the past several decades, church membership has, at best, been flat. Even in areas where the church is growing, it is being outpaced by population growth. More ominously, 46% of Texas Conference churches do not win a single person to Christ in a year. Bishop Huie recognized this trend and decided to do something about it. 25 churches in each district are beginning the process now, with the goal of eventually having all churches go through it.
Monday we began with Dave Herman speaking to the pastors and lay leaders of the 25 North District churches. He spoke of what results we’re aiming for in transformation:

  • Increase in professions of faith (that’s UM talk for people becoming followers of Jesus)
  • Increase in worship attendance
  • A shift from declining church systems to health systems
  • Becoming the church God has called us to be
  • All these are good, but I especially like the last point. Our Texas Conference churches are in a wide variety of communities. Some places growth comes easy – put up a building, have a half-way decent program, and people flock in. Other places the community is in decline. Regardless of our demographics, God has a calling for each church. That this new movement is not trying to shove churches into a box or use a cookie cutter approach is a real plus.
    Yesterday Dave met with the pastors of the 25 churches. Our leadership is essential to healthy transformation. For the best part of what he said (over and over again) was that real transformation is rooted in prayer. We need more than programs, more than structure, we need God.
    Finally, today, Dave came by our church to observe our setting and give some comments on what he saw. Not surprisingly, he said we need more signs so visitors can find their way around. We also need more greeters. Instead of just 2 or 3 greeters stationed in the sanctuary each morning, we need teams of at least 2 outside every entrance, to help people find their way in.
    We clearly have a long way to go, but I think we’re off to a good start.

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    3 Responses to Church Transformation

    1. John Wesley says:

      Dearest and Most Gentle Reader,

      I should like to offer my most humble salutations and felicitations on this festal day of St. Valentine. I have the highest regard for our community, the “Methoblog” and wish we could make acquaintance under more auspicious circumstances as I am sure that these acquaintances may yet become a valuable and enriching friendship as we exhort and instruct each other to be conformed in the image of Christ.

      I remain God’s most humble servant,

      John Wesley

    2. Mark Byron says:

      In some Methodist churches, increasing professions of faith and increasing church attendance might not go hand-in-hand. Increasing professions should require a spirit of evangelism and the need for such professions.

      That might not sit well with some folks with a more univerasalist theology. You might scare some of the more nominal members off if you’re actually asking them to take the Messiah seriously as their Lord and Savior.

      At leas that what the Methodist churches I grew up with in Michigan might take this; your Texas churches may be a bit more evangelical than the ones I grew up with.

    3. rheyduck says:

      as far as I can tell, Mark, universalism is the dominant ethos in UM churches, whether in Michigan or in Texas. I do think it is ironic that our leaders press for more professions of faith but use only the reasoning of the Great Commission. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but surely some people will wonder, “Why the Great Commission?”

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