New Beginnings is a Tool for Congregational Assessment
and Discernment for Mission
From conversations within the Synod Collegium (the gathering of presbytery missional leaders) it is apparent that the New Beginnings process has assisted congregational leaders to journey though much-needed introspection, providing a heightened awareness of their communities, congregational anxieties, and hopes for future mission. The Collegium also discerned that there is a strong pool of trained New Beginnings facilitators within the Synod community, as well as other congregational assessment tools.
The New Beginnings Network seeks to serve the Synod community by:
- Bringing together leaders experienced and trained in leading congregational assessment and discernment
- Identifying effective program resources for congregational assessment processes
- Gathering congregations across presbyteries at different phases of assessment for joint learning and story sharing
- Developing plans, resources, and leadership for congregational decision-making and implementation phases
“Our congregation is just stuck. It’s like we can’t get out of neutral.”
“Our church is disconnected from the neighborhood. Everyone in town used to know who we were; now no one even knows our church is here.”
“Financially, we’re having a lot of trouble and we’ve been withdrawing funds from our church savings account to pay bills.”
Does any of this sound familiar?
If these comments sound familiar, your church may want to consider a New Beginnings Assessment. This Hope Partnership service is specifically created for congregations in decline who face mounting challenges with regard to their sustainability.
If your congregation can say ‘yes’ to at least three of the following five characteristics, you may be a good candidate for New Beginnings:
- Less than 70 people attending worship
- Significant building issues (too much space, inadequate parking, deferred maintenance)
- Aging membership
- Changing neighborhood
- Trouble paying off a building loan
The New Beginnings Network has partnered with Hope Partnership to provide The New Beginnings Process for congregations in our Synod.
The New Beginnings Process
Come & See – Members of the Network will come to your area with the “Come & See” presentation for congregational leaders to learn more about the process and how to apply.
Pre-Assessment – After submitting an application for the assessment, your congregation provides profile information of current participants, financial reports for the last three years, and property information.
Phase 1 – Your presbytery leadership and a New Beginnings assessor will schedule a time to meet at your church for an on-site assessment: a complete building inspection, financial review with the church finance officer, a “windshield tour” of the community, meeting with the pastor and clerk, and an appreciative inquiry session with congregational leaders and members.
Your congregation will then receive a comprehensive report of the visit which will include:
- Congregational demographics and tenure
- Community demographics
- A pin map of membership
- Financial history and analysis
- Building condition and attractiveness to visitors
- Facility usage and stewardship of time
- Potential strategies for mission
Phase II – Within a few months of the visit, the New Beginnings Network members will train congregational leadership to interpret the report and lead a discernment process with the congregation. This training enables the leaders to analyze their report, explore options, begin to develop a compelling vision for your congregation’s future, and strategize about how to best engage the congregation in a decision-making process.
Phase III – In weekly small group meetings, the trained church leaders will guide the congregation though the discernment process. This process will enable your congregation to make a formal “big picture” decision about what you believe God is calling the church to do and be into the future.
Over the past few years many congregations in the Synod of the Northeast
ave participated in New Beginnings.
The cost of the assessment is $2,800 per congregation for 2 or more congregations in a region. Many presbyteries will subsidize the cost.
Contact your Presbytery Leadership for more information on how your presbytery can learn more about participating in New Beginnings.
Connect with New Beginnings
Want to learn more? Write to Cindy Kohlmann.