Vibrant Church Initiative: Hear the Stories

Date Posted: 6/12/2014

As mission fields evolve, dozens of TAC congregations are experiencing the benefits of learning within the coaching culture offered through the Vibrant Church Initiative. Several participants in this ongoing process are quick to share encouraging insight they are receiving along the way.

The bad news: 82% of those living in the areas surrounding the congregations of the Texas Annual Conference are unchurched. The good news: congregations across our nine districts are working to be more outwardly focused and tie ministry to mission and ongoing relationships. Rev. Donald Waddleton, who is retiring from his service as the Director of Congregational Excellence shared insight with delegates at the 2014 Conference in regards to the TAC’s Vibrant Church Initiative (VCI). “We understand that our churches find themselves in different mission fields than when they first began,” he says, “so we have been offering a continuous coaching and learning process called VCI to help congregations become more relevant within their communities. We are one of 30 annual conferences adopting this type of process and 30 of our congregations are currently benefitting from the coaching and learning environment at this point in time.”
The three components of the process are: 1) Leadership Development of Laity and Pastors,
2) Church Consultation weekend resulting in five recommendations to go from good to great, and 3) Coaching assistance.  Adds Don, “The entire process is focused on revitalization and the journey of renewal.”
Rev. John Stephenson, First UMC, Pasadena, was the first to enroll in VCI. “The coolest story I can share relates to how the visioning process helped get us focused on how we are uniquely positioned to serve our area. The day we defined our mission to “reach the unchurched children and families in Pasadena,” we had a group of junior high boys ask if they could play basketball in our gym. Realizing they were part of our missional target, we opened the gym and our youth director now sees them as part of her youth group. We’ve had at least 20 each day the gym is open and many have come to church and Bible study. How many other churches can say their youth group grew from 5-30 kids in one week?” Adds John, “The VCI process itself has been a help in creating the kind of turnaround we were hoping for.”
Rev. Dick White of Quitman UMC says the VCI process is revealing, “We do a lot in the community but not with the community in terms of building relationships that lead to making disciples. We are already being more intentional about interaction with our neighbors.”
Watch these VCI videos shown at conference to hear first hand from several pastors currently leading their congregations through the process.
VCI Video 1
VCI Video 2
To find out more about entering the VCI process, contact Debbie Sutton at or 713-521-9383.