Sustaining and enhancing the spiritual health and vitality of our congregations is a priority in the New York Conference. Our mission is to equip, resource, and strengthen our congregations in the New York Conference in their ministries as they evolve, move, and develop in the courses of their spiritual lives. Whether a New Church Start or a longtime congregation in need of revitalization, we offer the following programs and resources to assist our congregations in the effectiveness of their ministries now and in the future.
- Ministry Vitality Clusters are an opportunity for clergy and lay leaders to do transformational ministry work through a leadership summit and monthly meetings with expert coaches. We offer these clusters in partnership with The Epicenter Group, which is headed by Paul Nixon, author of I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church. Monthly meetings of clergy and quarterly gatherings of lay leaders assist church leaders in selecting, planning and achieving ministry goals for the vitality of their congregations. An important benefit of these clusters for pastors is a clergy group creating strong relationships through fellowship, mutual sharing, and accountability. The annual cost of these clusters ranges from $1,500-$1,800/year depending on the number of participating churches, and the Conference has often subsidized a portion of this cost. Authorized Ministers also receive Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) for their participation. For further information concerning the Ministry Vitality Clusters, please contact the Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development.
- New Beginnings offers to congregations an opportunity to clarify their contexts, explore options, and make informed decisions concerning their future direction. Over 1,000 congregations have participated in New Beginnings, 99% of which have decided on a future path. New Beginnings is offered to our congregations thanks to a joint collaboration between the United Church of Christ and the Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation, a ministry of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. If your congregation is seeking to explore options and imagine new future direction for your ministry, visit www.hopeecu.org
- ReVision is a program offered by the Center for Progressive Renewal, generally with churches that have participated in New Beginnings (see above) and is seeking ‘what’s next’ in ministry. However, congregations seeking to explore options in ministry independent of an assessment process such as New Beginnings might still benefit from reVision. For more information please go to www.progressiverenewal.org/revision
Congregational Consultants and Training
We have a group of experienced ministers who can provide a short term consultation or longer term coaching to your congregation in areas such as Spiritual Formation, Discipleship, Safe Church Training, Strategic Planning, Church Revitalization, and Organizational planning. We can connect them to you, and they can do this work with your congregation at a nominal cost. For more information please contact the Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development or the Conference Office.
The Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development can offer several one-two hour workshops that can be offered to your leaders and/or congregation in the following areas:
- Marks of Vital Congregations – a summary of a recent survey that describes characteristics of vital UCC congregations and implications for your church ministry
- Who is My Neighbor? Through the resource Mission Insite (see below), a presentation about the nature of your community and how you may serve your community by knowing its composition, values, and concerns.
- Asset Mapping – A participatory exercise which calls forth the assets in your congregation’s current ministry that might assist your future ministry
- Let’s Have a Holy Conversation – A structured discussion with your leaders and/or congregation around identity, purpose and context
- What’s your story? – An exercise that consists of finding a biblical story that best describes your congregation and how that story might shape your present and future ministry.
- Appreciative Inquiry – A workshop which helps your church appreciate who you are as you continue to discern God’s future for your ministry.
The above workshops are especially useful for congregations experiencing pastoral or other transitions, and can be given alone or combined for a daylong or weekend retreat, including a sermon on Sunday. For further information, please contact the Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development.
Readiness 360 – A Vitality Measure for Congregations
Readiness 360 – Congregations meeting eligibility criteria can participate in Readiness 360, an online congregational assessment in areas of Spiritual Intensity, Missional Alignment, Dynamic Relationships, and Cultural Openness. This survey assists leaders in understanding and acting upon issues that drive vital, healthy congregations. You may also learn more about Readiness 360 by visiting www.Readiness360.org or by contacting the Associate Conference Minister for Congregational Development.
How to Better Know and Serve Your Community – Mission Insite
The New York Conference offers our congregations access to MissionInsite, which provides demographic information to help churches know the communities they serve to help discern opportunities for ministry. Go to www.missioninsite.com for more information, and if your congregation is interested in accessing MissionInsite, please contact the Associate Minister for Congregational Development or the New York Conference Office.
New and Renewing Church Grants
The United Church of Christ offers the ReNewing Churches grant program. The program seeks to enact the Vision, Mission, and Purpose by investing in programs and ministries that live into the ethos of the United Church of Christ’s becoming. Ministries that are meant to be sustaining, as well as ministries that are meant to be impactful for a particular time and place, are encouraged to apply. Grants are awarded based on how the ministries are impacting their local communities in alignment with the Vision, Mission, and Purpose of the UCC. For more information on these grants visit http://www.ucc.org/grow-your-church
In addition to the above, you may find a number of helpful resources for your congregation through the following links:
- The United Church of Christ offers resources to boost the vitality of your congregation in worship, mission, discipleship, generosity, and other areas – Go to www.ucc.org/vitality/
- The Center for Progressive Renewal is a national organization which works with the United Church of Christ and several denominations and offers courses, webinars, coaching, and publications to develop leaders and congregations, and provides particular education and coaching to new church planters and pastors – Go to www.progressiverenewal.org
- Practical Resources for Churches has three locations in New York (on Long Island) and offers workshops, webinars, consultants, and resources to subscribing congregations at low cost – Go to www.prcli.org
- The Center for Congregational Health offers coaching, consultation in areas such as Strategic Planning, Conflict Reconciliation, Team Building, and decision making and governance restructuring – Go to www.healthychurch.org
- The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center offers several workshops geared to congregational health, conflict resolution and spiritual growth – Go to lmpeacecenter.org/events-page