Case Study: The “Why” Behind VCI
The reasons vary from church to church as to why 29 congregations in the Texas Annual Conference have said “yes” to enrolling in the Vibrant Church Initiative process over the last three years and even more are considering saying yes as well. Yet, all seem to relate in some way to the desire to thrive instead of just survive.
VCI is just getting underway at Crockett FUMC. Rev. Patrick Evans describes his reason for enrolling this way, “The Christian life is about transformation. The church needs to transform, as well. Our hope is that VCI will aid us in Christian growth. “VCI is a faith response to the glut of articles and posts declaring the Church as obsolete or irrelevant,” adds Rev. Alan Van Hooser, Cheatham Memorial UMC. “Doing the hard work is where renewal comes from and our Cheatham Memorial family is committed to this. Anyone or any church diligently involved in the process will thrive."
“We knew we had some symptoms such as declining membership, we just didn’t know the cause,” admits Keith Feille, treasurer and membership chair of Marshall FUMC in the north district. Marshall FUMC Pastor Rodger Garbs clarifies, saying, “We have great leaders with great hearts, they just needed to share the same vision and know how to get there.” In west Houston’s southwest district, David Booth, Asbury UMC says, “We live in a vibrant city and vibrant community and we know we need to be a vibrant church in that context.” Adds another Asbury member, “We want to do everything with intentionality to the glory of God.”
According to VCI Director Mike Tyson, the TAC introduced Vibrant Church Initiative in 2012 to provide a multi-year support system of resources, facilitation and strategies to church leaders who opt to participate. “Churches have since been discovering this to be an ongoing process that strengthens congregations and helps them to become the unique church that God is calling them to be
,” he says. “Each congregation strives to meet the needs that are specific to their mission field that fall within areas that play to the church’s strengths. We are excited that between now and the end of this year, we will be conducting 10 consultation weekends. Congregational Excellence hopes to start off 2016 with the same strong demand and interest.”
One of the latest churches to start VCI is Ashford UMC in Houston. Leaders share some of their thoughts about the process here via video:
Marshall FUMC members have been witnessing and experiencing a metamorphosis since they started
In addition, after leaders read the popular book, “Simple Church,” together as a group, they began streamlining over 30+ ministries down to the ones that are externally focused.
Rev. Fred Willis, Marshall’s VCI Coach, observes that the entire VCI process has “visibly empowered the laity to do the work of the church and allow the pastor to be the spiritual leader.” Adds Fred, “This congregation has also taken a huge step forward in creating and defining a personal pathway to discipleship, something they will continue to shape as they move forward, but it is becoming part of who they are as a church.”
“VCI has helped our members catch the same vision at the same time,” adds Keith, “and it has united the church. We’ve focused on discipleship, outreach and our facilities so far, but we will never say we have arrived or finished. We want to keep moving in a transformational direction.” Notes Rodger, “Our church looks more like our city now. I applaud the church and this process and our desire to keep this crown over our church and live into it from now on.”