Revitalization - Vision - Mission - Strategies
Rev. Mike Bonem
Mike Bonem is a Christ-follower, consultant, coach, author, husband, and father. He loves to help churches and ministries, and their leaders, reach their God-given potential. Mike is the author of four books on ministry leadership including Leading from the Second Chair and Leading Congregational Change. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a breadth of experience in ministry and business, including 11 years as an executive pastor, consulting with Fortune 100 companies, and leading a start-up business. Mike and his wife, Bonnie, have been married for over 35 years and have four adult children.
Developing a clear, shared, and compelling vision is essential for congregations that desire to grow toward a vibrant future. Mike facilitates strategic discernment processes in which a congregational leadership team assesses their current reality, imagines God’s preferred future for the church, discerns the vision, and defines the priorities and strategies to move toward the vision.
Rev. Jason Burnham
Jason is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana, and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he received his Master of Divinity degree. Pastor Jason served St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Bryan, Texas for 5 years, before relocating to The Woodlands to serve as the founding pastor of Covenant Methodist Church in June of 2011. Pastor Jason and his wife, Lauren have three children: Addison, Aidan, and Sam.
In my experience, revitalization takes place when laity clearly define the vision of the church; what difference we believe God is calling us to make in our community. Once you know where you are going, you are able to establish the mission and the strategies that will be implemented towards that end. When the laity are able to articulate the church’s purpose in unison, extraordinary things can happen.
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bynum
With degrees in engineering and business, Dr. Jonathan Bynum became a third-generation pastor with a unique perspective that has served him well in leading churches of all sizes and in all settings and in all corners of the Conference. As an avid learner and reader, he continues to become better equipped for these challenging times in both our church and our culture. Jonathan and his wife, Lea, enjoy the time they get to spend with their four children and two grandchildren.
Revitalization is a new day dawning rather than a return to the good-old-days. So, we don’t need vision statements; we need dreams and visions from God that stir imaginations and set hearts on fire. Jonathan does not promise a statement of aspirations that is frameable and forgettable. He wants to help congregations watch and pray and listen for the Lord’s promptings.
Rev. Wesley Duncan
Wesley Duncan is currently the lead pastor of First Methodist Alvin. Wesley has a love for the Methodist Church and strives to help churches adapt to ensure churches can relate to the next generation. Throughout his ministry, he has helped start new worship services, revamped the communication strategy, and worked toward helping each church he has served be the most hospitable church in town. He is not only a young United Methodist clergy, but his first love was architecture. He earned both a Bachelors and Master's in Architecture with a specialty in religious design from Texas A&M University, worked at a top Church Architecture firm in the nation, and is a registered architect in the State of Texas. Wesley would love to help your church design a new perception of your church to those in your community by strategically aligning your goals with new strategies.
If you are like me, you have read every book on mission, vision, and revitalization that is out there. The problem is not a lack of information, the problem is not knowing where to start. Most pastors want to love their people and revitalizing a church can definitely cause people to not like you pretty quickly. I get it. It's easier to keep things the same than to try to change. But the mission of making disciples of Jesus is too important to not try. That is where Wesley specializes. Helping your church find the sweet spot of combining a strategy that is not overwhelming but also does it in a way that helps you love people through the revitalization process. It might not be easy, but I promise you it is worth it.
Jan is highly sought after by congregations who desire a better understanding of who God is calling them to be and need help with defining and implementing a plan of action to become that congregation.
Jan is the owner of Grow Church Now and consults with churches who have questions to answer in order to move forward in living out the Vision and Mission that God has given them. She has been consulting with churches since 2007 and has had the privilege of working with United Methodist congregations of all sizes and demographics, located across the Texas Conference.
Gallup shared the result of a 2020 survey in which they asked, “Do you happen to be a member of a church, synagogue, or mosque?” As of 2020, they reported that church membership among U.S. adults is now at an all-time low of 47%.
Churches often spin their wheels investing heavily in programs, buildings, and staff while continuing to decline into the hold of “maintenance mode.” Just trying to keep consistent participation and attendance numbers, while paying the bills and maintaining upkeep on aging buildings can often become the topic of leadership meetings and Sunday conversations. We find ourselves consumed with “what needs to be done” and “how we are going to get it done,” instead of “why we exist as a body of Christ.”
Let’s have a conversation about how we can work together to: Create a strategic plan that provides new opportunities for your church. Develop a strategic plan that establishes a clear and unifying roadmap with a focus on shared goals, accountability, and benchmarks for measurement. Live into a strategic plan which helps your church achieve a long-term vision for ministry.
Don R. House, Sr.
I have benefitted from years of local church involvement as a layman and years of studies of growth and decline of churches through local church year-end reports—from 1974 to 2020. I serve as president of the Institute for Local Church Growth (ILCG), supervised by the West District but serving annual conferences and local churches throughout the U.S.
Our best results come from the completion of our Benchmark Project which requires the leadership to cast a 3-year vision for the church that is attainable through supplements to the budget across selected ministries. Strategies require targets with measured progress toward these targets. Supplements come from member-donors seeking to foster church growth.
Rev. Stephanie Hughes
Rev. Stephanie Hughes has 21 years of pastoral, preaching, and teaching experience as an ordained elder currently serving at St. John’s UMC in Texas City. In discerning her own call to ministry, she related most to Moses standing before the burning bush ready to reject God’s call with a list of excuses and insecurities. She learned early on that figuring out a call to ministry, next steps in ministry, strategic planning, or even getting unstuck takes discernment and often times, seeking help from a seasoned professional. Just as God sent Aaron to walk alongside Moses, God sends individuals to walk alongside us in ministry to be a coach and mentor. Throughout her ministry career, she has come alongside both lay and clergy to encourage and equip them to discern their next steps in deepening their own journey in personal discipleship and in public ministry. As a Ministry Specialist, Rev. Hughes is coaching and mentoring clergy in preaching, spiritual formation, community engagement, revitalization, and long-range planning.
Agility is key in ministry, yet we often find ourselves in a rut. Fresh perspective, creativity, and planning are necessary to get unstuck! We are all feeling the challenge that the pandemic has brought to every congregation. The challenge is to change, and change is hard! Whether your church is looking for fresh vision, to revitalize, or discern the church’s mission, Rev. Hughes can work with a group in your church. The church that she serves, has currently been through a discerning and visioning process to figure out where God was leading, and this work has been vital in sustaining ministry throughout the pandemic through her leadership.
Rev. Jay Jackson
I am a second career minister with 25 years of ministry experience who was raised in the United Methodist Church as the child of a UMC pastor. My first career was as a Chemical Engineer with Exxon, but my entire life has been spent as a devoted member/pastor in the United Methodist Church. I have been blessed to serve in a wide variety of ministry settings from small rural churches to large multi-staff churches. I have served in several East Texas settings, as well as in the Houston area and College Station, and was also a part of the Cabinet of the Texas Annual Conference. I have been blessed to leave every church that I served in better condition than I found it, while bringing significant turnarounds to several of them. I currently serve a dynamic congregation at Longview First United Methodist Church that is thriving and extending ministry in new and exciting ways.
Transforming congregations from a survival mentality into thriving and fruitful congregations is a passion of mine. I have found that listening, constructively identifying areas of growth, developing trusting relationships, and clearly identifying a vision and mission that is faithful and authentic to the nature of the congregation and its setting are critical to church revitalization. Identifying a shared vision of what the ministry needs to be and developing a game plan with clear and early successes toward that vision are essential. This vision and mission need to fit the context of the congregation and the mission field in which it exists.
Rev. Mike Johnson
After receiving his M.Div. from a seminary in Michigan, Mike moved to the Houston area to plant a church. After 32 years in the Houston area, you could now say Texas is Mike’s home state. After over a decade of pastoring, Mike received his D. Min. from Fuller seminary in adult discipleship and leadership development and began a Christian non-profit called Ascending Leaders. As founder and president of Ascending Leaders, Mike works along with colleagues to equip churches for Christ-centered discipleship. Measurable results. Eternal outcomes. As a coach, Mike is known for his passion for the local church and its pastor, creativity, design, emphasis on implementation and results, loyalty, vision, management, and effectiveness. Mike is married to Gina with two adult children who are married, living, and serving in the Houston area and three granddaughters.
Mike has written and leads a process for churches called “Charting Your Church Course.” CYCC is an upbeat process that helps a church discover its calling for its next chapter, then produce objectives and action steps. Mike continues to coach the pastor for a period for implementation and celebration of the results.
Rev. Matt Neely
I am a Pastor in the Texas Conference currently serving as the Lead Pastor at Good Shepherd UMC in the Cypress-area of Houston. Over the last 25 years in ministry, I have had the privilege of serving Jesus at some amazing churches as Senior/Founding Pastor, having successfully planted a church in League City called The Watershed (UMC), and having served as lead Pastor of Parkway UMC in Sugar Land (before coming to Good Shepherd UMC). I have also served as an associate pastor in some incredible churches – Memorial Drive UMC, Clear Lake UMC and Faith UMC – Richmond. It has been an amazing journey so far! I have been married to my very best friend, Ginger, for 22 years and counting. We have 4 kids and a grandson who keeps us young and busy.
Vision clarity helps churches be laser-focused so they can align their staff, time, energy, and financial resources around God’s unique design for your church. I have led half a dozen churches through a customized vision process to uncover their uniqueness and create congregational buy-in and a healthy culture. This is a Spirit-led journey of prayer and discernment, not a quick-fix journey that leads to some pre-packaged prescriptions or pretty words on a website. This process ends with your church understanding clearly who God uniquely designed your church to be and what God is leading your church to do next. I would be excited to lead any church on this journey of discovery or their journey of alignment around the vision they already have.
I am a retired banker with over forty years financial and management experience. Currently I work Monday through Thursday for a not-for-profit corporation that serves as an agent for the US Small Business Administration. I help business owners cope with outside pressures affecting their business such as a pandemic and changing market conditions. I have served my local Methodist church in numerous roles including the Administrative Board chair with the introduction of a single board model. I served the Texas Annual Conference as a lead consultant for six years for the Vibrant Church Initiative as guided by the Office of Congregational Excellence.
As a consultant for the Vibrant Church Initiative, it was my responsibility to help congregations through a revitalization and discovery process that looked at many aspects of their ministry with a goal to have an identified Mission with supporting Vision strategies that were tailored to their unique community. By having a clear focus on what God wants a congregation to be in their community, we can be more effective in ministry with measurable results that are both encouraging and can give rise to new opportunities for ministry.
Rev. Luis Ramirez
Pastor Luis was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He is a graduate of the Moores School of Music and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston where he studied Opera Performance, Italian and Spanish. He received his Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Pastor Luis has been active in ministry and in the community through Walk to Emmaus, Kairos Prison Ministry International, United Way, Meals on Wheels, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, SHSU Charter School, UPWARD™ Soccer, Spring ISD Ministerial Alliance, Northwest Area Assistance Ministries and UM ARMY.
In the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, he has served as the Founding Pastor of Misión Milby UMC in Houston, as the Associate Pastor at Servants of Christ UM Parish, also in Houston, and Cedar Bayou Grace UMC in Baytown, and as the Senior Pastor of Cypress Trails UMC in Spring.
While at Cypress Trails UMC, Pastor Luis led a Change Management process that emphasized Community Engagement and Outreach. Over a period of six years, the Church’s congregation accurately mirrored its multiethnic community Demographics. This process included the transformation of the Music Ministries in style and multigenerational engagement, charismatic Preaching, and an emphasis on fruitful Stewardship.
Pastor Luis spurred Cypress Trails UMC’s Revitalization through Fundraising. In six years, he helped raise over $500,000 inclusive of grants, individual gifts, bequests, corporate support and building rental revenue. This caused the Church to reengage its Vision and develop Mission Strategies for reaching the neighborhood.
Pastor Luis has been involved in Clergy Mentorship as a mentor to the Conference’s Exploring Candidates for ordained ministry. He has also mentored the Associate Pastors, Lay Ministers and Staff members under his leadership throughout his ministerial career.
Currently, Pastor Luis lives in Baytown with his wife, Heather, their daughter, Isabella, and their dog, Luna, where he serves as the Senior Pastor of Cedar Bayou Grace UMC
Dr. Jeff Springer
An educator for 34 years, a former Texas High School Head Football Coach and eleven-year veteran of the public-school classroom. Jeff is formerly the Principal at The Magnolia High School (2002-2016). In 2013 he was selected as the State of Texas TASSP State Principal of the year. Besides founding Spring Strategies LLC, that provides educational executive coaching, Jeff also served as the Minister of Men at Wildwood UMC, is a University Student Teacher Supervisor, and is also the founder of Suit Up Ministries, a nonprofit men’s ministry.
Jeff attended Abilene Christian University where he played on the 1977 National Championship Football team, received his Bachelor of Arts in Teaching from Sam Houston State University, and obtained his Masters of Sports Administration from the United States Sports Academy. In the spring of 2020, Jeff completed his Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Transformational Leadership from Concordia University.
Dr. Jeff Springer is passionate about raising DADs and helping them see their value. Jeff loves being a husband, DAD, and a grandfather. He is always seeking ways to acknowledge men, striving to be the Daily Active Devoted DADs God calls them to be. Jeff who resides in Montgomery, Texas, has been married for 40 years and has two children, and three grandchildren.
Spring Strategies LLC strives to uncover foundational opportunities within an organization, then looks to guide the implementation of measures to drive engagement. We believe in transforming the organization to a shared culture that is well-developed and clearly communicated, throughout. Our expertise allows for support with many concepts such as talent architecture, framing change for all, and establishing core values.
Rev. Dr. Steve Stutz
The Rev. Dr. Steve Stutz is an ordained Lutheran minister who has served rural/small town congregations in west Texas, as well suburban/inner city congregations in the metro Houston area. He has worked extensively with clergy and congregations of the Texas Annual Conference in a wide variety of consulting roles since 2014. He is a certified church consultant through the Society for Church Consulting and teaches at the Houston Graduate School of Theology.
Developing a vision and mission statement is an important part of defining the way a local congregation tailors its approach to fulfilling the Great Commission. Dr. Stutz has led a number of UMC congregations through an intentional process of values discovery, vision discernment, and mission planning/development/execution since 2014. This is process involves a congregational workshop and follow up consultations with leadership to develop and promote the updated vision & mission. Having an updated vision/mission will help your congregation focus on what is really important and provide a basis for developing other aspects of your strategic plan.
Rev. Jen Webber
Pastor Jennifer is serving as the Associate Pastor at First UMC Bryan, the lead pastor to the Awakening Service, and a Ph.D. student in Leadership at Texas A&M University. Jennifer is passionate about creating new opportunities to worship and share the gospel. She recognizes that to reach the unchurched, it is going to take time and requires creativity, innovation, and a heart for all God’s people. With the support of FUMC Bryan and the connections and relationships built over the years, Jen is instrumental in creating an outside worship service at a local downtown venue called the Awakening Downtown. Jennifer also brings with her experience working with other congregations in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the UMC where she served successfully in leading her parishioners to become growing and vital congregations.
Like people’s faith sometimes, a church can struggle, become stagnant, or begin to decline. This does not necessarily mean hopelessness; if anything, it means there is room for the church to reignite its faith and passion for ministry. My experiences include having helped lead a congregation who had lost its youth ministry, its pre-school ministry, and its ability to see the blessing in God’s pruning to a place in which it could gather, pray, vision caste, and goal set for God to produce fruit. Revitalization is one of my passions. As a pastor, I can sit, listen, and brainstorm with congregations so that God can bring about life and growth to a church in need of some extra love and encouragement. Using key mission and vision principals set forth by Christ and partnering them with change and growth initiatives, I can help lead congregations to become excited and alive again for ministry.
Rev. Jeremy Wester
I have been in pastoral ministry since 2010 when I graduated from Duke Divinity School and before that from Texas A&M. I'm at least a 4th generation United Methodist and have a passion for making connections, asking questions, and solving puzzles and problems. I am a husband and father who loves tennis, ping pong, and doing pretty much any hands-on project.
I am serving as a specialist in mission and vision work because I love challenging people to get back to the basics and think through the most important questions of why the church exists and how we can be most faithful going forward. I always prefer to capture the heart of where a congregation has been and work to translate the blessings of the past into a focus and strategy that will sustain a thriving future. I'm excited to think outside the box in a way that allows mission and purpose to drive everything else and I love the challenge of charting a new course forward.
Rev. B. T. Williamson
Rev. B. T. Williamson retired from active ministry in July of 2020 after 53 years of service in Executive Pastor roles, Senior Pastor leadership, Superintendent of the Houston South District, Director of Ministerial Services, Director of the Center for Clergy Excellence, and Assistant to the Bishop. A native Texan, who grew up in a parsonage family and lived across the breadth of the Texas Annual Conference, he holds degrees from the University of Texas and Southern Methodist University and pursued additional studies in Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin.
For the last twenty-two years Rev. Williamson’s career focused on strategic planning, leadership formation, supervision, and administration. His service in the Center for Clergy Excellence helped establish standards for the professional development of clergy, interim ministry services, and one of the strongest benefit programs in the denomination. While in the position of Assistant to the Bishop, Rev. Williamson directed the Annual Conference gathering, coordinated the work of the Cabinet, facilitated the operations of the Core Leadership Team, and supported the bishops’ objectives related to boards, legal, personnel, fiscal, and strategic concerns.
Rev. Williamson was the co-founder of Benevolent Missions International, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing needed ophthalmic care to the underserved in Belize and Fiji. Current avocational interests include serving on the boards of Benevolent Missions International, Methodist Retirement Communities, Wiley College, the Transitional Intentional Interim Ministry Specialists Association, and he continues his membership on the Texas Annual Conference Investment Committee.
The essential beginning stage in the life of any organization, particularly churches, centers on their vision and mission. Clarity about what a church wants to happen and how they will enable that reality to come into existence requires teamwork, patience, commitment, and sacrifice. Identifying realistic and achievable strategies that move the organization toward a desired future often means addressing existing circumstances and determining how they may need to change. In other instances, innovative programs, staffing, or resources are essential to accomplish change. Knowing how to put all these components together is important for success. My experiences in local church, Cabinet, and conference venues have given me that expertise. I have guided planning processes for benefits programs, established the Center for Clergy Excellence, created a unique transitional intentional interim ministry format, and facilitated two annual conference long-range planning projects. My approach balances the sense of urgency for planning with thorough input and consideration. I focus on identifying well-defined outcomes which the church can measure, evaluate, and adjust to achieve organizational goals.
Rev. Fred Willis
Raised in the UMC, I started ministry working with youth while in college before being ordained in 1997. Since then, I have been a pastor both in rural East Texas churches as well as communities along the Gulf Coast. Most recently I have been serving in the suburbs of Katy. This has exposed me to a wide variety of settings and cultures for ministry in our Conference.
Besides my work in Youth and Camping Ministry, I have spent a time in the Methodist Healthcare System of Dallas as a Chaplain, completing 2 credits of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), received certification as a Pastoral Counselor through Krist Samaritan Counseling Center, and was trained by Coaching4Clergy, learning to stand alongside Pastors.
Most recently, I was one of original members trained to bring the Vibrant Church Initiative to our Annual Conference, spending several years walking alongside clergy while coaching the congregations. One of my biggest passions is to help congregations discover their own way to make Disciples and take Christ into their own unique settings.
The next step after understanding the current and future demographics of your neighbors is to then develop your next steps. All our missions are the same: To make Disciples of Jesus Christ. Over the years, I have enjoyed working with churches to walk with them as they develop their own distinctive vision: how they will live the mission out within their community.