From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Effort Launched to Coordinate New Church Development
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
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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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