Something for Everyone: ‘Vibrancy’ Coaching Available to Churches of All Sizes


Hear ye, hear ye, the Vibrant Church Initiative, consultants, coaches and workshops are among the resources available to churches of all sizes.
When Dr. Jesse Brannen, Director of the Center for Congregational Excellence received this email, his heart sank. “Dr. Brannen, We are well aware of the VCI effort but understand that we are not eligible for those resources because of our church size.
Our question is:  what resources are available for a church our size to reinvigorate itself.”
“The natural progression or next step involving our VCI process and other resources is to scale them up or down, based on the church size,” shares Jesse, “so VCI Director Mike Tyson and I were happy to report back to this email from SPRC Chairman Burton Love, that in fact we have an array of possibilities for congregations of any size.”
Burton, a member of Payne Springs UMC, was thrilled with the events that followed. “Pastor Gary Hayes along with a core group of us,” he shares, “had been observing that attendance and contributions have been in decline and asking ourselves what on earth we were going to be able to do to impact the situation,” he shares. “When I talked to Dr. Brannen, he said, ‘Well how about I come visit you.’ I was duly impressed with that because Houston is quite a ways from us, but he came to talk to us in July and 13 of our members listened intently to what he had to say.” The Payne Springs group was enthusiastic to hear that VCI could be adjusted to work for a small church and they immediately requested an Ad Council meeting to consider approving the pursuit of this option.
“We had 23 attend that meeting,” he reports with excitement, “more than twice the normal attendance.” When Burton and others explained the VCI consultation process that includes evaluation and a great deal of follow up, he expected some opposition. “The more I learn about it the more appealing it seems because there is a commitment for the long-term,” says Burton, “and, sure enough, the group voted unanimously to proceed. In fact, one gentleman, knowing our church needed to invest some skin in the game, slapped a $100 dollar bill on the table and said, ‘this should get us started’ – and we didn’t even ask for money!”
Burton acknowledges that it will involve some time and work to begin the process. “We feel pretty blessed to be able to get going because this is economical and even includes pieces based on science,” he says. “Soon we will probably have some mystery worshippers in our congregation so I pray no one asks them to move out of their seat!”
Rev. Karen Bright, Trinity UMC, Longview, knows her congregation wants insight on bridging to the community, and is excited to have input from the TAC Center for Congregational Excellence in the form of experts and workshops. Adds Jesse, “These are two completely different scenarios that demonstrate there is always going to be something we can do alongside you that is individualized to your church’s situation. This is central to our existence as a Service Center and as Methodists because most of our churches are small to midsize.”
Rev. Mike Tyson, Vibrant Church Initiative Director notes, “VCI has a very successful track record so, as we work to expand to the smaller and larger churches, we are training coaches and consultants as fast as we can. I would stack our coaches up against any others in our sister conferences! We just completed a training class in early August that welcomed seasoned clergy such as retired district superintendents Rev. Sandra Smith and Rev. Bill Taylor to the group as well as Rev. Steve Wende, Rev. Jim Bankston and author/consultant Mike Bonhem.”
Expanded VCI /Resource Options
“We are excited to offer a variety of workshops and specialists to our congregations, regardless of size,” adds Mike.  “The Center for Congregational Excellence has a stable of consultants and workshops on the following topics, and we’re open to expanding the list to meet the needs of our churches.”
Workshops/Consultants are available or underway for:

  • Vision
  • Single board model of lay leadership
  • Communication
  • Discipleship Pathway
  • Worship
  • Hospitality
  • Stewardship
  • Conflict Management
  • Evaluating physical facilities
  • Outreach/Evangelism
  • Starting Contemporary Worship services
  • Birkman Personality and Leadership Style Assessment
“We are piloting new outreach curriculum from the Methodist Publishing House curriculum in two of our VCI churches,” he adds, “and hoping to develop more to help churches bridge to the Hispanic members of  their communities.
“Our experts and processes are flexible enough to customize per each church seeking information,” shares Mike. For churches with 350+ active members, for example, the VCI team can be expanded, and the number of mystery worshippers will be expanded to cover numerous worship services. For churches in the 125-350 range, a VCI team of 4 or more will conduct the Consultation Weekend, and the churches with 30-50 will likely access a streamlined VCI process involving several immediate workshops to kick start some new ideas and initiatives.
“Bottom line,” adds Mike, “we know that all of our churches are impacting the kingdom wherever they are located regardless of their size and I am prepared to invest time and money in them to help them do more.”
The Vibrant Church Initiative has been developed to provide these services based on church size:
  • VCI for the  Corporate Church – for churches worshiping 350+ - Six to Eight team members for Consultation  weekend at least one CCE member will be a part of the team, 20 mystery shopper package if 3 or more services, large church coaches.
  • VCI for the Program Church– for churches worshipping 125-350- Four team members at Consultation Weekend, twelve mystery shopper package (this number can be added to if needed).
  • VCI for the Pastoral Church- for churches worshipping 50-150 Three team members at Consultation Weekend, five mystery shopper package.
  • VCI Workshop- for churches worshipping 30 – 50. The CCE does not want to send churches wanting to try to revitalize away, so what we will offer is some workshops on most frequent prescriptions like, vision, communications, discipleship pathway, leadership and single board model if they have an interest in that new model. CCE staff Mike and Jesse will work with the pastor on implementation of the workshops.