I asked Nanci Hicks to share how her church is implementing Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. Here is what she wrote:
Five Practices Implementation
by Nanci McNeil Hicks
A personal ministry goal for work in this congregation is facilitating leadership development and creating an excellent culture for spiritual growth, faith formation, and community development in an environment of love that grows in grace and in service.
Leadership has been static between15 and 20 years in most leadership areas. In many cases, people do not know why certain things are done and there is no real communication effort to get others involved in leadership nor in ministry or small groups.
Last year I put together a study group to work through Bishop Shnase’s “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations”. I included people in the study group based on age, involvement in the church, longevity of membership/participation, and stated interests in/concerns about the present ministry of the church. The group included young adults, choir members, one administrative council member, people with concerns about worship, life long/generational members, and short term worship participants.
The study group worked through the material and decided to bring it to the Administrative Council. We selected one topic to begin: hospitality. The council set aside one Saturday morning and I led them through the material and from it the group (I intentionally led the discussion, but did not lead the thought process) decided on a plan to begin a hospitality committee this year.
The group decided that other areas of “excellence” also need to be addressed. The first committee meeting in each ministry area this year was spent with about 45 minutes of working through selected information, with a brief Bible study I put together using the work book published for “Five Fruits”.
Through this process, our committees and ministry teams have “permission” to move beyond reporting and rescheduling the same things they have “always done”. The ministry ideas and activities are owned by the committees and the church. People who have never been or felt invited to participate in leadership are being asked and stepping up to lead. And it is a safer environment when new ministry opportunities are created; people don't feel threatened by other taking their "job" and people don't feel threatened by taking others' jobs.
I must add; there are some who are attempting to sabotage the efforts and it is a noticeable effort. After several uncomfortable months of this, long time church members who are also leaders are stepping up and giving permission for the congregation to move on and into the ministry which God is calling them today.
We have a ways to go; small groups for adults are almost nonexistent. And we are making progress.
One of the exciting things for me as the pastor is that people are anticipating and expecting great things from themselves and each other and especially from God.