For congregations with an average worship attendance of 100 or fewer.

The Smaller Church Path is a team-based, leadership development discovery process that helps churches to more effectively carry out the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

This process will:

  • help healthy, small churches build the leaders necessary to discern their next steps toward producing more effective ministry for the future.
  • help churches that are stuck or declining build a leadership team and identify the areas that they need to focus on in order to move forward into greater effectiveness and to become more fruitful.
  • allow churches to customize the directions and outcomes to fit their church’s particular ministry context. It is not a “cookie-cutter” approach.
Participation is by invitation only. Interested churches should contact their District Superintendent.
The Smaller Church Path consists of the following three phases:
1.    Phase I: Shared Learning Experience (9 sessions, 12 months)
2.    Phase II: Consultation Event and Peer Mentoring (Preparation is approximately 6 months)
3.    Phase III: Implementation of Prescriptions (up to 18 months)

Scroll down for more information about each phase.

Phase I: Shared Learning Experience

The Shared Learning Experience is the first phase in the VCI Journey. This experience will help your team learn key concepts and best practices—to tap into the discoveries of other effective churches and smaller church leaders—and then to apply them in their own lives in order to develop as leaders and help the church more effectively carry out its mission.

Phase I will help your church:

  1. Expand the number of leaders in your church.
  2. Deepen their understanding of important church ministry concepts and practices especially germane to the local church.
  3. Provide your church with direction, focus and clarity of purpose.
  4. Help your church becoming more outwardly focused and connect with those outside the church.
  5. Provide your church the opportunity to share with other churches of similar size.
  6. Help your church to grow in greater effectiveness and fruitfulness and bring you hope!

Topics covered:

  • Session 1
    Building the Case for Hope
    George Bullard Life Cycle
  • Session 2
    Getting Beyond Our Church Walls
    The Healthy Small Church, Dennis Bickers
  • Session 3
    Worshipping With
    Worship Ways, Thomas Bandy with Lucinda Holmes
  • Session 4
    Leadership Development
    Ultimately Responsible, Sue Nilson Kibbey
  • Session 5
    Conflict: Co-Causal for Good
    Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times, Peter Steinke
  • Session 6
    Empowering Laity
    Evangelism in the Small Membership Church, Royal Speidel
  • Session 7
    Casting Vision of Missional Clarity
  • Session 8
    Developing Vision and Setting Goals
    Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Robert Schnase
  • Session 9
    Orientation: Consultation Event and Peer Mentoring

The 9 sessions are located throughout the state and determined by District participation and locations of participating churches.

The Church VCI Team

A church’s team consists of its pastor and laity, representing a minimum of 10% of the church’s average worship attendance. The VCI team needs to be capable of fostering a sense of team and demonstrate healthy communication practices, so that the rest of the congregation benefits from the process. The team participates in 9 Saturday learning sessions (usually from 9 AM to 2 PM), that include a time of teaching from the facilitator, spiritual reflection on scripture, interaction with the ideas and concepts, and group sharing. A major focus of the Shared Learning Experience is on each individual applying the concepts directly to themselves so that they can grow as leaders. Time will be spent at each session sharing how participants are doing this back home.

Between Sessions

Each participant on the team will read books that pertain to session topics. Those on your church’s team will meet at least once between each session to debrief the session, discuss the readings and to see how each person is doing at applying the concepts personally. A coach will be assigned to your church to contact your pastor during the process to see how your team is doing.

Phase II: Consultation Event and Peer Mentoring

Phase II is approximately three months long and culminates in a Consultation Event which provides three strategic recommendations, called prescriptions, for the church to pursue in order to move to even greater effectiveness. During the three-month period the pastor will be a part of a peer mentoring group, the church will do a pre-assessment report, participate in a workshop, and a series of mystery guests will visit their worship services.

Once Phase I is completed, the Phase I facilitator, VCI staff, coach and District Superintendent will discern who will be invited to Phase II.

Steps toward the Consultation Event:

  1. Once invited to participate in Phase II, an affirmative vote by the Administrative Council/Board of the church is required.
  2. The Consultation Event is scheduled.
  3. A coach is assigned to the pastor and the Pre-Consultation Workshop is scheduled.
  4. The church creates a Prayer Team.
  5. The Church VCI Team is recruited or the existing team continues to shepherd the VCI process. This team is responsible for the Self-Study preparation.

The Consultation Event:

  1. Typically runs from Noon to Noon during the middle of the week. The exact days are determined by the partnership of the church and Conference VCI Staff.
  2. The Consultation Team is on-site during the 24-hour event and includes a church tour, pastor interview, church leaders interviews, potluck dinner, congregation workshop and reading of the Consultation Report. The report includes three strengths, three concerns and three prescriptions. The prescriptions are provided to help the church become healthier and more effective at carrying out its mission.

Following the Consultation Event:

  1. The church will have 30 days to consider adopting all three prescriptions. If the church agrees, it will move to the final phase of VCI. This time of discernment will include opportunities for congregational discussion and prayer.
  2. The church’s District Superintendent will convene a Church Conference at the end of the 30-day period where the church will officially vote whether or not to adopt all three prescriptions. In order to move to Phase III, all three must be agreed to.

Phase III: Implementation of Prescriptions

The Implementation of Prescriptions is the third Phase in the VCI journey. With the help of a coach, the church will implement the three prescriptions that were identified through the Consultation Event in Phase II.

Any church that has completed the Consultation Event and has voted to adopt and implement the three prescriptions is eligible to proceed.

The Implementation of Prescriptions includes the following:

  1. COACHING: The church will have a directive coach assigned – usually the one who was a part of the consultation team in Phase II – who will meet on-site with the church’s leadership to help guide them in the implementation of prescriptions. The coach is assigned for 18 months.
  2. PEER MENTORING GROUP: The church’s pastor will be a part of an ongoing peer-mentoring group consisting of pastors from other churches in Phase III. A trained Peer Mentoring Facilitator will convene them each month.

This is what my church needs! What are the fees? VCI Fees