Our second church, Cobleskill, has now completed their consultation weekend (which they called Awakening), their Town Hall meeting and their vote on the prescription for moving them to greater health.
The vote to proceed was 125 to 3!
I am happy to report that Dr. Borden was very impressed with the overall health of this church. Several times he mentioned that they were in better shape than most of the churches he is called to consult. However, there are still areas to improve, and the Cobleskill church has said a resounding 'yes' to moving forward with their part in the District Transformation Project.
Here are the strengths, concerns and prescription as posited to the Cobleskill Wesleyan Church on March 20.
1. Pastor and Spouse: Andrew and Kathy Fetter are key assets in this congregation. God has raised up a leader who is committed to leading the congregation to fulfill the “Great Commission”. He is respected for his leadership, preaching and connection with people. Last year at least forty people expressed their commitment to follow Jesus Christ as a disciple. Under his leadership this congregation is filled with “new Christians”, younger people, people from all walks of life and people from a variety of denominations. “Fetter” is doing an excellent job!
2. Worship: This congregation is known for its worship services. People are led to honor God through music, the creative arts and the preaching of the Word. The services are relevant and reaching many people who are coming from either un-churched or de-churched backgrounds.
3. Children: The Children’s ministry is ranked highly by those who attend. The leaders are making do with limited facilities while serving families and children. Strategies and tactics are employed to reach out to children in the community as well as those children that attend on Sunday.
4. The Leaders: The leaders of the congregation were and maintain continued commitment to directing the congregation to fulfill the purpose Jesus Christ gave to The Church, which is to make disciples who make disciples. There is unity among the leaders in being committed to a common mission.
5. Welcoming Congregation: When this congregation states that it is a friendly congregation, it is true. We heard story after story of individuals who felt so welcomed their first Sunday that they made the decision that day to return and become regular in their attendance.
1. Large Church Mindset: This congregation is in the top ten percent of all congregations in the country. However, the congregation limits its effectiveness by thinking and acting as a small congregation. God has sent this congregation many human resources and these resources need to be leveraged to achieve the Great Commission.
2. Discipleship: This congregation, while doing a good job of making new disciples for Jesus Christ, is not skilled in helping the new believers (and older believers as well) in becoming reproducing disciples for Jesus Christ.
3. Finances: The finances set aside for building are not going to help this congregation reach its missional potential. The current attitude towards money reflects viewing staff members as financial liabilities not as financial investments.
4. Facilities: The current facilities are limiting growth and will hinder and perhaps prohibit the accomplishment of the mission long term.
5. Growth of the Senior Pastor: The Senior Pastor, though highly gifted in many areas, is not currently equipped to lead the congregation to its next level of effectiveness.
1. Large Church Mindset: In large congregations mission and vision is placed above self-interest. This congregation has the right mission but not an accountable vision. One will be established by the leaders, reported to the DS, and be in place by May 15, 2011. Large congregations are led by staff members who are recruited to cover those ministries people expect when they visit and attend a congregation. The major ministry that is missing is one that connects new people to Jesus Christ, His Body and then mobilizes them for ministry. Such a ministry will be in place and led by a staff member by September 1, 2011. The pastor’s new staff will be deployed, resourced, and begin to be held accountable by September 1, 2011.
2. Discipleship: The pastor and his staff members will develop a description of what a disciple of Jesus Christ looks like in current culture. They will then develop an intentional path to help people become such disciples. Such a path will help the leaders evaluate progress collectively and individually. This description and this path will be in place by December 31, 2011.
3. Finances: The pastor and board of the congregation will ask the District Superintendent and the District Board of Administration to release the $100,000 committed to land and facilities so that $50,000 to $75,000 can be used for hiring staff members and funding various ministries. This request will be made by May 14, 2011. Assuming it is released, funds will be used to hire part-time staff members to help with the assimilation and discipleship strategies and for hiring a key administrative person. Funds will also be used for training and providing resources for key staff areas and for coaching the Senior Pastor. Coaching will begin by May 31, 2011 and staff members will be in place by September 1, 2011.
4. Facilities: The congregation needs to move into larger facilities as soon as possible. These facilities will need to be rented or leased since the congregation is not in a position to purchase either land or erect new buildings. No deadline can realistically be placed upon such a prescription; however, a transition plan will be in place by October 1, 2011. Church leaders will mobilize the congregation for a week of Spring Cleaning in order to thoroughly clean all existing church properties. Trash and non-essential items will be removed. This will be completed by May 15, 2011.
5. Growth of the Senior Pastor: The senior pastor will employ a coach approved by the DS to help him lead the congregation to its next level of effectiveness. This coach will be in place by May 31, 2011.
THE PASTOR WILL LEAD THE CONGREGATION TO VOTE TO EITHER ACCEPT OR REJECT THIS REPORT BY APRIL 30, 2011. IF REJECTED THE CONSULTATION IS OVER. IF ACCEPTED THE DISTRICT COMMITS TO HELP THE CONGREGATION FULFILL THE PRESCRIPTIONS BY PROVIDING THOSE RESOURCES IT HAS AT ITS DISPOSAL FOR THIS DISTRICT TRANSFORMATION PROCESS THROUGHOUT THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS.
Dr. Paul D. Borden
Rev. W. Paul James
Rev. Stanley K. Hoover