This week’s team update is a guest post by Rev. Dr. Chris Williams, Assistant District Superintendent.
Climbing Higher: Taking Your Church to the Next Level
The Church in the United States is perceived to be underperforming. One research study conducted by Lifeway predicted a seven-year period of decline that includes 55,000 church closures and a drop in church attendance from 17% to 14% of the total United States population (1). And that research was conducted before any of us knew anything about COVID-19.
There is no doubt that COVID created unprecedented challenges for the Church. However, I am not sure that it is accurate for us to blame COVID for some of the losses the Church has experienced over the last couple of years. We must confront the glaring truth: COVID did not harm the church's ministry. Instead, it magnified existing vulnerabilities, revealing areas where our churches were already faltering.
I do not think that there is any merit in looking back on previous years of church ministry to find who or what is to blame for the church’s current state. Rather, I think the current season we are in is a call to church leaders, pastors and laity, to take collective responsibility for what we do next. The mission is clear – guide our churches towards renewed spiritual health and missional effectiveness so that we can fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples of all nations!
This is the impetus behind the creation of the Next Level Church Experience.
Reimagining Church Growth
Rather than thinking about Next Level as a workshop designed to help your church become a “big church,” we invite you to reimagine church growth as the faithful pursuit of the next steps in your journey to become a church that is spiritually alive, outward focused, and committed to the transformation of lives for the sake of the Kingdom.
The primary outcomes that Next Level continues to emphasize are:
To ensure churches are effectively armed with the tools and knowledge necessary to take the next steps in their journey, the Next Level Church Experience features modules such as Climbing Higher: Becoming a Next Level Church and Making Disciples Who Make Disciples. Beyond just imparting knowledge, the emphasis is on action – after each module, guided coaching conversations help leaders strategize concrete next steps.
Recognizing the challenges that accompany implementation, we go the extra mile. We not only provide pastors and churches with coaches for six months post-event but also offer $1,000 implementation grants to resource their actionable plans for community outreach.
Go to the Next Level
It’s undeniable that our churches in the Crossroads District face challenges. My church faces challenges and so does yours. But with these challenges come unmatched opportunities. The Next Level Church Experience is not merely an event; it's a commitment – a commitment to the mission of Jesus, a commitment to pursue renewal in our churches, a commitment to see God’s Kingdom work move forward in our communities.
The next session of the Next Level Church Experience is scheduled for Saturday, November 11, 9 am to 4 pm, at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana. This is more than an invitation—it's a clarion call to lead your church forward.
Click here to register today. Let's take that collective step and commit to leading our churches to the Next Level!
(1) J. D. Greear, Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015).
Please place the Follow Conference on your church’s prayer calendar. We’re believing God for a powerful move among our next generation students and their leaders. You will want to attend and bring as many teenagers as possible for this life-changing experience!
Please save the date and begin making plans to join us for the 2024 Heartland Gathering in Pigeon Forge, TN, on April 2-5, 2024. The DBA has approved one $300 scholarship for each church to help cover the majority of the registration cost. More information and registration is coming soon at gathering.heartlandregion.org.