I have mentioned Stan Ott’s name in worship and discussions over the past few years. Stan is the President of the Vital Churches Institute (VCI) and his passion is the transformation
of the mainline church. Stan teaches the principles of congregational vitality, transformation, missional endeavor, and leadership. As pastor, Stan has over thirty years of first-hand knowledge of the hard work and challenges that lead to the blessings of being a transformational congregation that moves to new vitality.
You have also heard me talk about the Acts 16:5 Initiative. The Initiative is an intentional program of congregational transformation. Unlike many other transformational theories, the Acts 16:5 Initiative isn’t a prescription for health. This isn’t a, “do it this way and you will grow” program. Consultants aren’t going to come in and tell us all the things we do wrong. Rather, it is a guided time of self discovery and discernment.
During the Interim Pastor period, Bob Harris did a great job of helping our congregation to identify it’s vision and mission. The reality is that those goals and visions, like all goals, have an expiration date. Christ Presbyterian Church is not the place it was five, ten or fifty years ago. With every passing year, our congregation, community and culture changes. Many of the goals set during the previous mission study have been achieved to one extent or another. We also have discovered new gifts and talents that need to find their place in our ministry. Since the church is a dynamic body with a dynamic relationship with God, it is easy to see that we are wise, if we continually seek discernment.
A hallmark of the Initiative is the fact that Stan is a Pastor and teaches with a Pastor’s heart. His concern is not the ego of pastors or members, but instead the vitality and spiritual growth of congregations. He truly believes that while there are things about the church that are not working, we still must honor who we are and what the past has taught us. This means that we consider not only adding new things, but blessing the tried and true ways. Blessing and adding makes room for those things we love, while encouraging us to think of new ways. I find this to be a helpful and comforting approach. We don’t necessarily need to end something in order to start something new. Although we do have to be realistic about the impact and stewardship of our ministries.
At the next Session meeting I will be asking for an official endorsement and commitment to the Acts 16:5 Initiative. At this point, I am asking you to lift this decision, and the possibilities it possesses, up to God in prayer. Please pray that this Season of the Spirit will be a blessing for our congregation, as well as our sister congregations throughout the presbytery.
For more information on the Acts 16:5 Initiative please visit: www.vitalchurchesinstitute.com