God is on the move in our vitality churches. Read some recent testimonies of revitalization in our conference. For Vitality Balcony Reflections Form, click here.
Community Covenant Church
The story of how our church, Community Covenant Church in Springfield, Virginia, partnered to plant a new church is as straightforward as it is surprising. Our congregation was gathered for a prayerful and Spirit-led “balcony” conversation two years ago about next steps in the congregational vitality process when one of our members, Mike Han, stood up and shared his heart about second-generation immigrants. Many were falling through the cracks at their local churches.
With Community Covenant’s blessing, Mike, who had done previous pastoral work, gathered a small group for a Bible study. Over the next year and a half, this group transitioned to a church plant core team and, finally, a full-fledged church plant. Our church gave sacrificially: hosting fundraisers and navigating difficult tax questions, but much of the support was more simple like lending tables or opening up meeting space. The new core team worshiped with our congregation once a month for about a year, and we continue to gather regularly for other events, which was a tremendous blessing for both congregations.
The new church plant, Table Covenant Church, now meets in a movie theater about 15 minutes away and is growing as a body. It is important to understand that our congregation is not impressive in many typical measurements: our building is small, our numbers are few and our budget is tight. That said, we have been intentionally growing in those measurements which matter: trusting in Christ and being sensitive to the Spirit. What an adventure to be a part of the Spirit moving in power to do something new in our midst!
Ryan & Devyn Chambers Johnson, Co-Pastors
Vitality at Mission Covenant of Orange, Mass
By the time of our entrance into the Vitality Pathway, the congregation had moved from being a risk of closing to being stable and growing a bit. The notion of busting through stability to become a church this is both healthy and missional had not yet occurred to most of us.
By the time we undertook Vitality, I was in my late sixties, and the big transition plan was to keep me going somehow as long as possible. Maybe not the best plan.
The Vitality process changed all that. The biggest shift was to turn our attention outward. Our town is poor, and most of the once larger churches are near closing. We used to be a smaller, more personal alternative; we came to understand that we have to become a church for the city. Vitality also revealed what a resource the national Evangelical Covenant Church is for us. We now have a clear purpose, a new structure, and a good planning process. The Vitality experience has trained many new leaders. The search for the next pastor is underway, so that no momentum need be lost at my retirement. God has used Vitality to return the juice to Orange!
Rev Jeff Black
The Covenant Church of Thomaston
I am thankful for The Vitality Pathway. We have experienced a movement of the Holy Spirit in numerous ways. Our church has historically been stable and sea worthy, but lately has been docked in the harbor. It is calm there but God has bid us to put out to sea, open the sails and catch the wind. To be on this course has required hard work, taking up the anchor and bearing some painful reality.
I have both loved and hated this experience. I love the process, the events, the unity building and working together and agreeing change must happen or we will sink. The hard work began as we received the results from PULSE. There was much to celebrate; but also a tough love reality check we needed to face. Our vessel was at a “critical moment”; this was how we saw ourselves. The fear I had was that some would jump ship, or maybe it was best I leave? And how will we possibly determine next steps? Then, some needed dry dock conversations began. We focused more on our incredible potential and how we are ready for change.
I knew this would be a risky venture, but we now see the travail has paid off. As we invited Kreig Gammelgard to come alongside us, we began to experience positive changes in worship, outreach, attendance and discipleship. To right the ship, God gave us direction, and a vision of what awaits us on the high seas. The time spent in dry dock was worth it! God brought areas of concern into our sights; he helped align us and our vessel to catch the wind of the spirit. Our sails had been luffing, and now are beginning to catch the fresh wind of the Spirit. To God be the glory!
Tim Olsen, The Covenant Church of Thomaston