Re-Envisioning the Vibrant Church Initiative (VCI) Process in 2015

Date Posted: 11/13/2014

As craftsmen and farmers know firsthand, it is always a good idea to keep sharpening the tools of their trade. In like manner, the Center for Congregational Excellence has been tweaking a “new and improved” VCI process for immediate rollout. The good news: no waiting and a shorter implementation cycle.
On your mark. Get set. Go! Over the last two years, more than a dozen TAC churches have recognized -- and personally experienced -- the Vibrant Church Initiative process as a tool that strengthens pastoral effectiveness, improves clergy morale, deepens the UMC connection and enhances skills for ministry. “Our participation in VCI is energizing and really revitalizing the church,” notes Rev. Dick White of First UMC, Quitman. “This helped us realize that our prior outreach efforts have had no connection back to the church so we are much more focused on the ‘why’ now, and aligning our ministry to our new vision.”
The Vibrant Church Initiative launches congregations into a new way of being and doing church.  VCI is ongoing and “custom fit” to each congregation and mission field.

“This process continues to build momentum and successes, but we have been tweaking it for greater efficiency and impact with changes that are being implemented immediately,” notes Dr. Jesse Brannen, Director of Congregational Excellence. “Our timeline thus far revolved around a cluster of churches in a particular area joining the process as a group,” he explains, “which means some churches have had to wait for a year or more to get started. Additionally, TAC’s initial model included 18 months of preparation and leadership training before the vote to participate in a consultation weekend, followed by another 18 months of implementation of the recommended ‘prescriptions.’ Our abbreviated VCI process will allow any church to start when they are ready and will only involve four months of preparation before the consultation weekend, with another 20 months of implementation which shaves a year off the process,” he adds.

The other critical tweak in this vibrancy-focused process relates to recruiting VCI coaches that will partner with each participating church in a mentoring relationship. “We are engaging the District Leadership Team to a greater degree in the process going forward,” says Jesse, “encouraging them to find and train coaches in their geographical area who will work alongside the churches in addressing their VCI action items.”

The VCI focus is still – and always has been -- on providing resources, facilitation and strategies to church pastors, staff and laity so that they in turn will be able to reach new people for Christ and become the church God calls them to be in their community.

According to Jesse, the districts are embracing this opportunity and encouraging churches in their respective areas to consider enrolling in the new and improved process. “As an extra layer of support in this new VCI process, the Texas Conference will develop a list of subject matter experts on various aspects of ministry that will be available to congregations, whether they are in VCI or not.”

“I believe the new abbreviated process for VCI will attract even more churches, and that congregations can get started without delay, thus get encouraging results faster,” adds Rev. White of FUMC, Quitman.