This past weekend, I had an amazing experience! Rev. Norm Mesel, Rev. Marc Watkins and I were the team that conducted the consultation at our Morley church.
This church was begun in 1843. If you know much about Wesleyan Church History, you will remember that Orange Scott withdrew from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1843 to begin the Wesleyan Methodist Connection of North America. Evidently, Morley was one of the very first churches in this loosely-organized group of churches.
Over the past 169 years, this church has gone through multiple life cycles. Just recently, it was at the low end of the cycle, not far from death. A group of 25-30 people hung on, hoping that something would reinvigorate their church and their outreach to their community. A few months ago, Zack and Carla Working, from Indiana, responded to the call to pastor this church. Since their arrival, there has been renewed energy in the church.
This past weekend, we experienced a wonderful sense of renewal. On Sunday, 65 people, many of them younger, poured into the sanctuary to hear the prescription that we trust will bring renewed health. That prescription follows below.
Two things I have learned...
1) The cluster groups that we call Success University (SU) are imperative to building a strong district team, and 2) The consultations that we call the District Transformation Project are another vital ingredient in church and district renewal.
I just told my administrative assistant, Cam, this morning that these two things alone could totally occupy a man's time, energy and prayer.
And now for the consultation report...
Morley Wesleyan Church Consultation Report
March 23-25, 2012
1. Pastoral Leadership:
The people of Morley Wesleyan Church are grateful for the pastoral family that God has sent them. Pastors Zack and Carla Working are a ministerial team that obviously love the Lord, each other, and the church where God has planted them. The congregation has confidence in the direction that the church is headed.
2. Lay Commitment:
Through thick and thin, feast and famine, a dedicated core of leaders have tenaciously clung to the fact that God planted Morley Wesleyan church in the North Country.
3. Roomy Facilities and Campus:
Vision and foresight of those who have blazed the trail at Morley Wesleyan Church have led to adequate parking, a solid worship center, and a useful activities center. Though needing to be refurbished, the facilities offer a wonderful canvas on which to paint.
4. Above Average Giving:
A dedicated core have generously and courageously supported the church with their tithes and offerings, thus making ministry possible. Going forward, these, plus those who are joining them, will continue to provide financial resources for the ongoing ministries.
5. Welcoming Congregation:
Many with whom we spoke shared that the welcoming , friendly congregation made attending the church like being with family.
1. Lack of Vision:
Morley Wesleyan Church has no clear vision statement. This lack of clarity has caused an absence of focus and intentionality, and has led to a "keep the doors open" mentality vs. a "let's impact our community for Christ" attitude.
2. Lack of Children/Youth/Young Adults
Failure to provide an engaging, ongoing ministry to children, youth and young adults has led to a graying congregation with few young families and young adults.
3. Tired Facilities
While solidly built, the buildings have not been updated for a long time. In order to make them attractive to today's family, a room-by-room refurbishing is necessary.
4. Outreach and Assimilation
Morley Wesleyan Church has been focused on taking care of those already in the church rather than focusing on those outside the church who need Christ. This has resulted in an 'it's all about us' mentality.
5. Staff and Leadership Development
For too long the leadership team and ministry positions have been held by a few. This has led to the perception that only a few make the decisions necessary for this congregation.
The pastor and people of Morley Wesleyan Church will adopt the following vision statement: "Morley Wesleyan Church exists to honor God by making new disciples for Jesus Christ" (The Great Commission). The vision statement will be in place by June 10, 2012.
The pastor will lead the church in a ministry audit. Those ministries that do not support or aid in implementing the vision will be coached so they know how to make disciples. Failure to implement the vision in any ministry means that the ministry must cease to exist.
The church will define the community for which it is responsible. Upon completion of this demographic work, the leadership will prayerfully select two numbers. The first number will represent the lives to be touched for Christ through acts of service over the next five years. The second number will represent souls to be reached with the Gospel during the next five years. These numbers will be in place by July 30, 2012.
In anticipation of this new vision and mission of the congregation, the pastor shall lead his people in a service of prayer and repentance, asking God to forgive the lack of intentionality and passion in reaching the lost. In planning this service, the pastor will consult with two of the district transformation pastors who have led their congregations in one of these services. In addition the congregation will read and discuss The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson. This will be completed by June 10, 2012.
A new job description for Pastor Carla focusing on the Executive Pastor/Children's Pastor will be developed. Her position will develop into a co-ministry position with her husband. A stipend for this position should be considered. A budget line for Children's Ministry must be one of the top items in the 2012-2013 church budget. Several thousands of dollars is not too much to consider, thus other line items must be adjusted accordingly.
A road trip for children's ministry and decoration/construction workers will be organized to visit other DTP churches that have recently updated their children's ministry areas. This will be put in place by May 1, 2012. On June 16, at least a dozen workers will attend the district Unleash 2012 training day.
Prompt attention will be given to upgrading the nursery to a cozy modern space. This area will be staffed. If babies are not present for the service, the worker will spend time praying that God will send young families with babies to the Morley Wesleyan Church.
The team wishes to affirm the Morley Wesleyan Church for the present emphasis on remodeling the current buildings. The new fellowship/cafe area located beside the Worship Center is stunning. The warming/cleanup kitchen will create versatility that will only add to the connection ministry that is already taking place.
The Activity/Youth Center will be viewed as an outreach tool provided by God. The pastor will lead the LBA in rewriting guidelines for the use of this building, with special attention given to making sure that it is available to the youth of the community on a regular basis. Also, it will be made available to community groups and families and other churches wanting to use it to minister to youth. This building must not sit vacant. It must be used and maintained as a resource given by God and one for which we will give account to God. This guideline will be updated by July 1, 2012. The new guidelines will be forwarded to the District Superintendent so he can make sure adequate insurance coverage is in place.
A new lighted church sign will replace the old one that now sits by the church porch. To be located at the front of the main parking areas, its modern glow, including website address, will tell to all that the Morley Wesleyan Church is alive and on the move. A new website is also designed. The new sign and website are to be completed by September 30, 2012.
A schedule for continuing the renovations of the entire campus, both inside and out, will be developed by the pastor, trustees and LBA. The timeline of projects, projected cost, etc. will be ready by August 15, 2012. This includes employing a professional consultant, such as Ernie Reed from Sherwin Williams, to give guidance regarding a campus-wide decoration theme.
Fundraising for these projects will continue. If the $30,000 goal is not reached by December 30, 2012, the pastor and LBA, along with the District Superintendent, shall explore the possibility of a short-term loan in order to make it feasible to complete the renovations in a timely fashion. The team recognizes that the extent of renovations needed may take longer than the one-year prescription deadline.
The pastor, along with his coach, shall plan four bridge events during the 2012-2013 church year. The church budget shall be adjusted to reflect this new emphasis on outreach. The pastors, Zack and Carla, must place an unusual emphasis on reaching and assimilating new attenders and new believers into the Morley Wesleyan Church. This will be accomplished, in part, by taking a team to Unleash 2012 to learn about assimilation.
Training for ushers, greeters, and follow-up teams will take place. Emphasis will be placed on newcomer events and New Believer classes. Whenever a conflict arises regarding a ministry to existing members and reaching new attenders, the new attenders will be given preference in time and resources.
VBS will be one of the huge outreach events of 2012. That, along with Trunk-or-Treat/Fall Festival and the annual Children's Christmas Program, will offer the opportunity to attract young families to view the new children's worship area. Once again, proper monies must be allocated to make these events possible.
Also, Missions, both foreign and local, must be given adequate place in the 2012-2013 budget. The Missions Team will develop priorities for where these funds will be invested...whether in lives here or abroad!
5. Staff/Leadership Development
Moving to a team that leads and executes ministries will be initiated by April 30, 2013. Pastor Zack shall give priority to recruiting and training individuals who will be ministry leaders in areas such as worship, children, youth, assimilation, etc.
This ministry team will meet monthly to set goals and programs, plan special days and events as well as for leadership development. Recognizing that the Board governs, the pastor leads, the staff manages, and the congregation ministers will be an ongoing part of the growth of the congregational structure as it moves toward a larger organizational pattern.
THE CONGREGATION (INCLUDING REGULAR ATTENDERS THAT MIGHT NOT BE MEMBERS) WILL VOTE ON WHETHER OR NOT TO ACCEPT THESE PRESCRIPTIONS. IF THE VOTE IS NEGATIVE, THE DISTRICT WILL NO LONGER ENCOURAGE THE CONGREGATION TO IMPLEMENT THE PRESCRIPTIONS, SINCE THE CONGREGATION WILL HAVE REVEALED ITS DESIRE NOT TO DO SO.
The Consultation Team:
Rev. W. Paul James
Rev. Norman Mesel
Rev. Marc Watkins