Home   |   Make a Gift   |   Contact Us

Story New Beginnings congregation has renewed purpose

New Beginnings congregation has renewed purpose

GCC-LT5Greenfield Christian Church in Greenfield, Ind., has a “connector bridge,” an enclosed walkway designed to provide protection from the elements as people move from one area of the church to another.

Even though it was built after the original church buildings, the bridge had seen better days, and the property committee was concerned about its stability and safety. So, they asked Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF), Hope Partnership’s ministry partner, to evaluate the structure to determine next steps.

DCEF Advisor Jim Michel did two things: First, he determined the connector was structurally sound and didn’t require immediate attention; and second, and more importantly, he asked Pastor Frank Everett and Property Committee Chair Ann McKelvey a question that would change the course of Greenfield Christian Church’s future. He said,

“We’ve been talking about a short-term concern. I’d like to ask, what are your goals for mission and ministry for the long-term?”

The two church leaders did not have a response, but immediately recognized that finding the answer should and would be the congregation’s top priority.

At Jim’s suggestion, the leaders approached Hope Partnership in 2015 about the ministry’s New Beginnings Assessment Service, which is designed to help congregations discern, “What is God calling our congregation to do and be in this time and this place?” New Beginnings does not force change on a congregation. Rather, it provides the information, the process and the training to help members and leaders come together to make wise and realistic decisions about the future.

With guidance from Hope Partnership’s Rick Morse, the congregation embraced the New Beginnings process, which resulted in two monumental decisions: To reinvent themselves by incorporating mission in everything they do, and to stay in and use their current facilities to live out their ministry in the community.

Easier said than done, right? Maybe, but this congregation was ready for the “doing.” With courage in hand, they began the process of defining their mission and choosing a path for the future. A Mission Redefinition Transition Team (MiRTT) was formed as a congregational think tank, charged with providing “ignition for change” and encouragement to stay focused on the chosen path.

GCCSoupKitch7What does reinvention look like at Greenfield Christian Church? It looks like more small groups, who along with every committee and church organization have adopted the slogan and practice of “Every-ONE in Mission” and service to the community. It reflects an attitudinal change that enabled the empowered congregation to launch (in less than three weeks with full due diligence) and embrace their own thriving children’s preschool that serves the neighboring community. It includes opening up their building to the community for parenting classes and an Alcoholics Anonymous group, with more hospitality to come. It results in a multi-generational congregation with a growing number of children.

What does it feel like? It feels like vitality and renewed purpose. It feels like God’s spirit at work in them. According to Pastor Everett, “It feels like we’re moving again.” He explains, “For awhile, we had been in the doldrums, but now if feels like our sails have caught a little bit of wind. The New Beginnings process opened us up to new ideas and gave us a new sense of discovery about what and who we are, which is different than in the past.”