Why You Should Consider Attending the Upcoming VCI Consultant Training

Date Posted: 2/12/2015

Helping good churches become great churches is the job of the VCI (Vibrant Church Initiative) consultants that are teaming up with congregations across the conference to facilitate revitalization and new successes. Read about the experiences of existing lay and clergy serving as VCI consultants and how you can join this impactful ministry via training this spring.
Ask any of TAC’s current VCI consultants how they like serving on these revitalization teams and you will get the same response – contagious excitement about doing something with almost immediate and visible results for the faith. The TAC Center for Congregational Excellence will be offering Basic VCI Consultation training in two locations for the three key positions held by each team. According to Center Director Dr. Jesse Brannen, anyone remotely curious or interested can attend training to learn more about being a Lead Consultant, Coach or Scribe on the teams, and will leave ready and equipped to serve other churches in this impactful way. Note: Following training, VCI consultants that serve on VCI Consultation Weekends receive a stipend for their work and reimbursement for approved expenses.
Why Take this Training and use your Giftedness to Serve Churches?
Although he has a full schedule as a pastor (leading a church currently going through VCI), Rev. Jim Flagg makes time to serve TAC as a Lead Consultant because he knows it is important work. By the time his team arrives for the weekend consultation, the church has already done a great deal of work communicating what VCI is, gathering and preparing leadership, and digging through history --ancient and modern -- to complete their self-study.
“Being Lead Consultant on a team is a great privilege,” he shares, “and a role that is part a cheerleader and part prophet.” He explains, “Having been through the VCI process at my church, I have a unique understanding of what the congregation is experiencing. While the idea of changing our beloved churches naturally brings some angst and fear, I love being the encouraging cheerleader calling them to fear not.
Through the interviews, focus groups and church workshop, it is a great experience to see the people light up as they collectively have an “aha” moment. They realize the past is the past and they glimpse a future filled with hope — if they will pull together (i.e. the prophet aspect).”
Dr. Steve Stutz (training new coaches in photo at left) thoroughly enjoys working alongside several churches in the role of Coach.  The role of coach extends beyond the VCI Consultation Weekend. Coaches are paired with churches as an ongoing resource throughout the VCI process – as an accountability partner and encourager for each pastor as the congregation follows the VCI team’s recommended prescriptions.
The Scribe serves as a type of reporter on the team, compiling the team’s thoughts into a brief report that is presented to the church on Sunday of the Consultation weekend. The ideal candidate for this position is someone who is able to summarize thoughts and edit the document as the team provides input on wording and concepts.

Communications Director Kelsey Johnson, Westbury UMC, shares that, "Being a scribe involves listening even more than writing. As the consultation team meets with pastors and members of the congregation, we listen intently and take lots of notes. From there, we discern patterns and identify the common denominator of what has been said. All of this goes into the construction of the final document that details out the church's areas of strength and areas of needed growth.”
Adds Kelsey, "It's really a treat to be a part of this prayerful, collaborative process as the people of a local church express their longing for God's will to be done in their midst. These people of faith expect transformation and are willing for that change to start with them. That's an inspiring thing to witness." Wendy Cederberg has served on a half-dozen VCI weekend teams and also finds it rewarding to take a break from business communication type work to help churches as a VCI scribe. Shares Wendy, “I have been blessed to serve as a Scribe for numerous VCI weekends and each weekend had its own personality and strengths. We meet many wonderful people during the weekend consultations; the members are so invested in their church and are eager to embrace ideas that will be positive and make a difference in their lives.” She adds, The VCI teams are filled with really fun, bright, committed individuals who are dedicated to the goal of offering specific recommendations that will enhance the life of that specific church. It’s hard work but we all laugh a lot and pull together to help each other any way we can. I have left each of my consultation weekends feeling like our little team has made a difference in the lives of the church, the congregation and the community.”
Ideal for Retirees
Having recently retired, Rev. George Fisk (from the North Texas Conference) has “fallen in love the entire VCI process” and now has ample time to serve several TAC churches as a Coach. “I’m finding that VCI keeps me plugged in to ministry but one that is tremendously different from that of a local church pastor,” notes George. “If I’d had VCI type training as a pastor 40 years ago it would have changed my ministry for the better, rather than the trial and error method we used back then.” George has the luxury of being available at the spur of the moment to accommodate pastors’ schedules and the availability to serve multiple congregations as a coach. “This is a very positive and vibrant process, and it also provides a nice supplement to my retirement income, which is an added bonus.”
Plan Now to Attend VCI Consultant Training: Regional Sessions Offered

  • Northern Region “Basic” VCI training: April 22-23 in Lufkin, TX
  • Southern Region “Basic” VCI training: May 6-7 in Houston, TX (Conference office)
Notes Jesse, “We held an initial training for coaches earlier this month and will host an ‘advanced’ training for coaches later this summer. It is my hope and prayer to have 50 VCI coaches, 20 lead consultants and 20 scribes trained this year to provide sufficient expertise to serve the dozens of churches that are entering the process this year. We have streamlined the entrance process this year and have added District Coaches to the mix for ongoing support that is geographically-convenient.”
For more details or registration assistance for training, contact Marylyn Green in the TAC Center for Congregational Excellence at mgreen@txcumc.org.