From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Effort Launched to Coordinate New Church Development

Date 04 May 1996 15:23:14


96071   Effort Launched to Coordinate New Church Development  
           And Church Redevelopment Strategy Nationwide 
                    by the Rev. John Langfitt 
            Presbytery Executive, Heartland Presbytery 
KANSAS CITY--Presbyterians appear to be back in the business of new church 
development and congregational redevelopment if a Jan. 19-21 conference 
here is any indication. 
     More than 100 persons from 15 of the denomination's 16 synods gathered 
to worship, pray, listen and discuss ways to launch a major effort on the 
part of the Presbyterian Church to coordinate presbyteries' efforts in new 
church development and congregational redevelopment.  The meeting was 
hosted by the Rev. Frank Beattie, associate director for evangelism and 
church development in the National Ministries Division, members of his 
staff, and others involved in new church development and church 
redevelopment ministries. 
     With a working assumption that it is not productive to develop a 
denomination-wide strategy until the presbyteries have their strategies in 
place, Beattie declared that the expectations for the gathering were to  
       gather key persons from presbyteries, synods and the General 
       prepare (refine, design, discern) strategies for new church 
development and congregational redevelopment that are currently operating 
in governing bodies 
       determine how those strategies inform the development of a strategy 
that is churchwide in scope. 
     After the Rev. H. Stanley Wood, associate for new church development 
and church growth in Louisville, outlined the basic demographic research 
services that are provided by his office, the presbyteries of Cascades and 
Northeast Georgia made presentations regarding their strategies and the 
implementation of them in their presbyteries. 
     Conferees also discussed various aspects of new church development and 
congregational redevelopment strategies with evangelism and church 
development staff members from the General Assembly.  Subjects included 
racial-ethnic church development, mission program grants, church loans, 
urban and rural strategy, church growth and the use of demographic 
research.  A special presentation on the Presbyterian Church's new 
investment and loan corporation was also included in the program. 
     Most of the conference time was spent in discussions by presbyteries, 
synods, network groups and special interest groups.  Among the fruits of 
these discussions: 
       Demographic resources are available from Wood's office. 
       Strategy is not demographics but demographics is a tool to support 
       Demographics is not a panacea in congregational development. 
       Funding for new church development and redevelopment is crucial and 
new ways must be found to acquire funds for this work. 
       Historically there has been an apparent correlation between new 
church development starts and membership growth in the Presbyterian Church. 
       Presbyterians need to challenge each other and local congregations 
in particular to take the initiative in starting new churches and not just 
depend on regional governing bodies. 
       Most of what needs to be learned about new church development and 
congregational redevelopment can be learned from those involved in it and 
both ministries are much more complex than is often supposed. 
     A focus group met in Louisville for one day following the conference 
to synthesize the work of the gathering and anticipate future steps.  The 
conversations centered around the primary role of presbyteries, the value 
of demographic research and resources, the importance of cooperation rather 
than competition within the structures of the denomination and the 
necessity of financial partnerships in order to fund new church development 
and congregational redevelopment churchwide. 
     "There needs to be a strong commitment within presbyteries to new 
church development and congregational redevelopment," Beattie said.  "That 
commitment needs to be in the context of the full mission of the 
presbytery, addressing all peoples within their bounds and mobilizing 
congregations to that mission." 
     Beattie expressed confidence that "preparing pastoral and lay 
leadership for service in new church development and congregational 
redevelopments will be a task high on every presbytery agenda in the coming 
months and years." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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