We’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:
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.