Friday, February 23, 2018

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Vital Church Initiative

How succesful has it been?  In Missouri, 80% of the churches that have been in the process at least 18 months have experienced an increase in their weekly average worship attendance.  Half of all participating churches have grown by 5% or more.  The conference also reports that it has helped its church leaders have a better understanding of important concepts related to effective ministry.  It provides churches with hope, encouragement, and direction.  We are already beginning to see fruit in the West Michigan Conference.

Who sponsors or coordinates VCI?  The VCI Team at the West Michigan Conference level includes Rev. Gary Step (Larger Church Coordinator) and Naomi Garcia (Smaller Church Coordinator).

Who leads our group?  Rev. Craig L. Adams, a retired United Methodist minister, is the leader of our group.

What churches are involved?  There are two large churches (First UMC in Saint Louis and New Life UMC in Lakeview) and two small churches (Shepherd UMC and Evart UMC) that participate in our once a month sesssions between September and May.

Phase I:  Shared Learning Experience - Our monthly sessions are five hours long with each session consisting of teaching, spiritual reflection, interaction with the ideas and concepts and group sharing.  A major focus of the Shared Learning Expereince for participants is personal growth.  (A delicious lunch prepared by the New Life United Methodist Women gives us a chance to regroup, discuss what we have learned, and get acquainted with members of the other churches.)  Participants read one book each month pertaining to each session's topic.  Those on the church team meet at least once between each session to debrief the session, discuss the readings and to see how each person is doing at applying the concepts.

Session I - Orientation (September 7) - Our first session included identifying the steps in the VCI  process, understanding the important of continuing to develop leadership skills, building relationships with other participants, and preparing for the rest of the process by understanding our expectations and responsibilities.  The book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase was reviewed covering the topics of radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity.

Session II - (October 5) -  Our second session began with a review of the book called Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton, who offered an invitation to spiritual transformation by covering the topics of solitude, scripture, prayer, honoring the body, and self-examination.  In the afternoon, we reviewd The Life Cycle and Stages of Congregational Development by Rev. George Bullard, which looks at the life cycle of a church from birth to death and how vision, relationships, programs, and management change in each cycle.

Session III - (November 2) - We have been beginning each session with spiritual formation.  Our third session began with a review of Chapter 3 in the book Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton.  We explored a different way to read scripture - Lectio Divina.  The VCI group contains both small and large churches.  Ours being a small church, we were assigned the book The Healthy Small Church by Dennis Bickers.  The other churches in our VCI group read Renovate or Die by Bob Farr & Kay Kotan.  We discussed ten key ways to renovate churches.  In the afternoon we all took the Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory in preparation for our next session.

Who are your VCI Team Members?

Delores Brock (828-5352)                                                Kathy Shepard (828-6486)

Rev. Kathy Kursch (828-5866)                                          Jean Thrush (828-5813)

Linda Miller (828-5504)                                                     Sandy Travis (828-6862)

Rev. Randall Roose (772-1001





Shepherd UMC

Pastor Janet Larner

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107 West Wright Avenue

P.O. Box 309
Shepherd, MI 48883


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Worship Schedule:
Sunday Worship - 9:30 a.m.
Sunday School - 10:45 a.m.

Wednesday Morning 
Bible Study:

10:00 a.m. September - May