Transformation Journey Informational Guide
Transformation Journey Information
Bishop Ken Carter
Church Development 704.535.2260
Transformation Journey 704.363.1695
Table of Contents
Transformation Journey Overview
Phases of The Transformation Journey Experience
Transformation Journey Commitment and Criteria
What Happens During a Discovery Experience?
Invitation and Review of the Transformation Journey
Prayer and Bible Study Curriculum
Town Hall Meeting Guide
Charge Conference Guidelines
Voting on the Transformation Journey Report
Transformation Journey Covenant
Transformation Journey Overview
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable, and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Transformation Journey Overview
The Church Transformation Journey is a three-year process of discovery for local churches where they will prayer- fully engage with scripture, identify recommendations that God is calling the church to achieve to fulfill God’s vision for the church, and then partner with a Navigator and Guides, to embark on a journey of living into God’s calling for their church and their role in transforming the world.
Churches identify their recommendations through hosting a Discovery Experience where a Discovery Experience Team will help the church name up to five recommendations for them to engage. If these recommendations are approved by the church, a Navigator and Guides will be assigned to work closely with their pastor/s and church leaders over the next three years to implement their Transformation Journey initiatives.
To prepare for a Discovery Experience, the church names a team of church leaders who are willing to spend thirty days in preparation for the Discovery Experience by studying scripture and praying for their church and community and for the Discovery Experience. Churches also complete a self-study that provides information to the Discovery Experience team about the history and present reality of the church.
After the Discovery Experience, a church is presented with recommendations to work on with a trained Transformation Journey Guide. These recommendations that surface during the Discovery Experience, could be anything related to church health, (e.g., creating a discipleship pathway; helping the church become more outwardly focused; and creating good stewardship practices, etc.). The church is given thirty days to pray about and consider these recommendations. The pastor then requests that the District Superintendent authorize a called Charge Conference to accept the recommendations.
If 69.5% of the voting members or more agree to proceed, the Discovery Experience Team Leader, the pastor, and the District Vitality Associate will create MAP, (Ministry Action Plan) and select the Guides to work with the church on its Transformation Journey recommendations.
The District Vitality Associate will serve as the Navigator for the Church’s Transformation Journey Process. He/she will be assigned to work as a liaison with the pastor and the assigned Guides, the District Office, and the Transformation Journey Coordinator.
Important Miscellaneous Details
The Transformation Journey is not a quick fix program. This is a sustained ministry effort that will take up to three years to complete.
Participation in the Transformation Journey is completely voluntary. We only go where we are invited.
The Transformation Journey works with the church. We listen for the God-inspired direction already present in the hearts of the congregation.
There is no financial cost to the church to participate in the Transformation Journey. We ask churches to set at least $1,000 aside for their own use in the process.
Required books, training materials, and the cost of providing Guides are provided by the conference.
4 Phases of The Transformation Journey Experience
PHASE 1: Application Phase
Steps for Phase 1:
Churches apply to be received into the process.
1. Download the TJ Booklet and application questions
2. Have a group of leaders consider all aspects of the TJ process and form responses to the application questions
3. Make a presentation to the Church Council (or Governing body). Receive permission from them to apply for Transformation Journey.
4. Be clear that in applying to TJ, the church is also agreeing to invite a TJ Team to your church, which includes agreeing to complete all the pre- work. (Pre-work could be a link to a list of all components)
5. Submit application online
What Happens Next?
Applications will be reviewed by the TJ Leadership in consultation with the church’s District Superintendent.
Churches will receive one of the following responses within a month of the last day of the application period.
Accepted for Discovery Phase
Accepted, but waiting for space in the discovery phase
Your church is not quite ready for TJ at this time. Some other resources or processes may be suggested.
PHASE 2: Discovery Phase (For churches that are accepted into the Transformation Journey Process)
Steps for Phase 2:
1. Church completes the Congregational Self-Study provided in the Transformation Journey Information Booklet and submits it online two weeks prior to their scheduled Discovery Experience.
2. Churches schedule their Discovery Experience Team event according to congregational readiness. Dates are agreed upon to schedule this Discovery Experience in coordination with the Office of Church Development and the District Office.
3. Church engages with provided curriculum to experience church-wide prayer experience and Bible Study that should occur 30 days before the Discovery experience.
4. “Guest Worshippers” will visit the church.
5. Discovery Week Experience will be held.
6. Pastor Interview
7. Church Leaders Interviews
8. Saturday Workshop with Discovery Team
9. Discovery Team submits final Transformation journey Team Report with recommendations to the pastor by Thursday of the following week.
10. Church hosts 2 church-wide town hall meetings to consider the recommendations.
11. Church Council considers the church’s willingness and readiness to participate in the Transformation Journey process.
12. If the church decides it wants to enter the Transformation Journey process, then it must hold a Charge Conference to approve the ALL recommendations. The resolution must pass the Charge Conference with a vote of 69.5% or better.
13. Church Leaders sign and submit the TJ Covenant online
PHASE 3: Active TJ Phase
Steps for Phase 3:
The Church works with trained Guides and their Navigator (DVA) to work through their recommendations.
Pastors schedule a MAP session with the TJ Coordinator to choose plan out process, manage recommendations, and choose guides.
Regular check-ins, and reports will be expected to be submitted.
We measure our progress and celebrate our successes. A new lifecycle has begun!
PHASE 4: Completed TJ Phase
Once all recommendations are completed:
The church will receive a Certification that is placed in a church’s cabinet profile.
Churches that complete the process will also be recognized at Annual Conference.
If your church is interested in applying to be a Transformation Journey Church, then go to this link to download a copy of the questions, The T.J. Booklet, and the Commitment agreement.
To be considered, a team of at least 4 lay persons (appointed by the church’s governing body) and the pastor must submit the application online.
Once all the steps are completed, the church can submit their application ONLINE.
Quick Review of The Application Process
Opportunity to apply to Transformation Journey is presented to Church Council
Team is formed to answer application questions, consider the commitment, and then submit a recommendation to the Church Council to apply to Transformation Journey.
Church Council agrees to all the conditions of the application. (Including the criteria, commitment, the church wide Bible study, the work of the congregational study, and inviting a Discovery Team)
The application is submitted online.
Application Questions: (To be answered by the above-mentioned Team.)
What does “Making Disciples” look like at your church?
What did your church do during the Covid quarantine? What did your church learn about itself as you navigated through the difficulties of the pandemic?
What is the church currently doing that specifically connects it to new people? Connects it to your community?
How does your church discern what your community needs? What are those specific needs? How do those needs intersect with the resources and passions that your church has to offer?
What are 2 of the most significant challenges facing the revitalization of your church? What might need to change within your church's culture to impact those challenges? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your church’s appetite for the changes you have stated? What is your reasoning for those numbers?
Transformation Journey Commitment and Criteria
If your church is accepted into the Transformation Journey process, you agree that you fully understand the following criteria and the commitment:
The church is a healthy system. The church has strong lay and clergy leadership and together they are seeking ways to effectively do ministries of nurture, outreach, and witness. The Transformation Journey process provides a clear structure and helpful Guides, but the people and the pastor must be willing, able, and committed to doing the work required to engage the recommendations from their report. They will need to be able to design strategies and processes with the help of their Guides.
Transformation Journey is not designed for churches in decline or having serious internal conflict. It is not a “silver bullet.” It is not for churches who may be on the verge of closure.
The Transformation Journey process recognizes that adaptive and cultural change takes time. A church can expect to take as long as three years to complete its recommendations. Churches applying should expect the pastor to be serving that church for the next two to three years and the pastor should have been there for at least one year and appears to be off to a good start.
The church is in an area with potential for growth in numbers, outreach, and community impact. The church and pastor have shown a willingness to reach out to their community.
The pastor and church should have demonstrated adaptive resilience during to the challenges of the pandemic, including adding some form of online presence. They should be ready and willing to continue to make adaptations that will enable effective ministry to happen in our ever-changing world.
What Happens During a Discovery Experience?
Rob Hutchinson, Nancy Rankin, or other trained Team Leaders will bring a team of 5 people who will spend extensive time with you and your leaders.
Prior to the Discovery Experience a team member meets with the pastor to tour the facilities and surrounding parish area and gives a report to the full Discovery Team.
On a weekday morning the team virtually interviews the pastor.
On a weekday afternoon the team virtually interviews church leaders individually who are invited by the pastor to be interviewed.
The key interview questions are sent to those being interviewed ahead of their interviews. They can also be shared with the congregation for their responses.
Western North Carolina Conference Transformation Journey Discovery Experience Schedule for Virtual Interviews and In-Person Saturday Workshop
(Scheduled prior to the Discovery Experience Week):
Tour of the church facilities and parish with a Discovery Experience Team member and the pastor. A report of the tour is shared with the Discovery Team prior to their interview with the pastor. The key interview questions can be shared with the pastor ahead of time for his/her review and can be sent to those invited to be interviewed and to the congregation requesting their responses.
Interview with Pastor
Transformation Journey Team connects by ZOOM to go over the day’s schedule.
The team interviews the pastor and discusses the tour of the facility report they have reviewed ahead of the weekend.
Interview with Selected Staff and Laity
Interviews 1-6 are interviews between the Transformation Journey Team and an individual leader of the church. These interviews are scheduled for 30 minutes each with 15 minutes between each interview. The pastor should arrange these interviews with individuals who are key strategic leaders and influencers for your church- including key staff people, and key unpaid leaders. Expect instructions to submit the names, email addresses, their roles, and their interview times by the Wednesday of the week before your church’s Transformation Journey Discovery week.
What Happens During a Discovery Experience Workshop?
Saturday morning the Team arrives at 8:30 a.m. The Workshop begins at 9:00 a.m. All church leaders, church staff, and anyone from the congregation is invited to this time of presentations and sharing. Topics to be covered will include the importance of relational evangelism; clarity of vision and mission; life cycle of the church; sharing of hopes and dreams, discerning God’s call on the church for such a time as this. Ideally this will occur in-person, but it can also be done virtually.
The Discovery Team remains to begin work on the report they will present to the church with up to five recommendations that will come from the insights gained through the interviews, the self-study, and the guest worshipers. The Team Leader will send the completed report to the pastor the following Thursday for distribution to the congregation.
8:30 a.m: Discovery Experience Team arrives
9:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.: Training session for church leaders (pastors, staff, committed volunteers, and positional leaders and board-all in one group)
Invite as many people as possible to attend this valuable training session. Specifically invite positional leaders and faithful volunteers to this training session to gain as much momentum as possible. Paid staff should also be present. This is a day that can result in some significant positive energy going into your 30 days of Town Hall meetings following the presentation of your church’s report.
Small group discussion experiences will be provided. Small groups will choose a person to take notes on their discussions that will be e- mailed to the Discovery Team at the close of the morning session.
Training may vary by the specific needs of the congregation and will include topics such as:
Your “God” Story
Training on the life cycle of a congregation
The critical role of Vision for a congregation
Demographic analysis/key insights of the church’s setting
Hopes for the future
Team Lunch and Report draft:
The pastor and congregational attendees leave the meeting.
The Discovery Team continues to eat lunch and begin drafting the church’s report. The Team Leader continues to work on the initial draft and prepares a full draft to send to the team by Monday night. The team makes their edits, and the Team Leader completes the final draft and sends it to the Pastor by Thursday. The Pastor calls the Team Leader after reviewing the report to discuss any questions. The Pastor sees that the report is distributed to the congregation with dates of the Town Hall meetings to discuss the report.
Invitation to Have a Transformation Journey Discovery Experience
We, the leadership, of ______________________ Church, do hereby invite the WNCC Office of Church Development to send a Transformation Journey Discovery Experience Team to lead our church through a series of interviews and a workshop, present a report for our review, and we will request a called Charge Conference to vote on the recommendations in the report.”
Pray daily for our church and the Transformation Journey process
We commit to pray daily for every aspect of the Transformation Journey process including: our pastor, our church, our community, Transformation Journey Initiative leaders, and Guides.
Participate fully in the Transformation Journey process
We commit to doing our best to fulfill every stage of the Transformation Journey. We will make the Transformation Journey a top priority of the church.
Prepare a self-study
Prepare a self-study and complete the Prayer and Bible Study Curriculum provided in the Transformation Journey Information Booklet so that the Transformation Journey Discovery Experience Team will have the information needed to make recommendations for our congregation and we will be prepared to fully participate in the Discovery Experience Workshop.
Host a Transformation Journey Discovery Experience
We will work with the Transformation Journey leadership to schedule a Transformation Journey Experience and we will give this Experience our highest priority and attention.
Convene a Charge Conference to vote on the Transformation Journey recommendations
Thirty days after the Transformation Journey Weekend, we will hold a charge conference to vote on the Transformation Journey recommendations.
Fulfill the Transformation Journey report recommendations
Upon a 70% (69.5% or better) in favor of adopting these recommendations, we will move forward, with the help of the Transformation Journey Navigator and Guides to fulfill the Transformation Journey report recommendations.
Church Council Chairperson: _________________________ Pastor: ______________________
Approved by the Church Council on: ________________________________________________
Quick Review of The Steps Discovery Phase
After acceptance into the program, the pastor schedules a Discovery Experience in consultation with the TJ Coordinator and the District Office.
30 days prior to the Discovery Experience, the church engages in the provided Bible Study.
2 weeks prior to the Discovery Experience, the church submits all the self-study materials.
A secret worshipper will visit and submit a report.
The Discovery Week includes the pastor interview, the laity leader interviews, and the Saturday workshop.
After the workshop, the Discovery Experience Team delivers a report with recommendations from the interviews, site visit, workshop and congregational feedback, and the self-study to the church for their review.
The church holds at least two Town Hall Meetings to discuss the report.
The church requests that the D.S. hold a called Charge Conference to vote on becoming a Transformation Journey Church and to receive trained Guides to help them fulfill the recommendations in their report.
How Do Guides Work with the Church?
Guides help the Task Force Team formulate goals that will help them take the next right steps toward fulfilling their recommendation. The Guide does not do the work for the church. They are there to ask great questions and encourage the pastor and Task Force Team members in bringing their recommendation to fruition.
Guides may share helpful resources, but every church needs to adapt their learnings to fit their context.
Guides normally work with a Leadership Team over six months.
Most Leadership Teams will design a process or structure by which they will fulfill their recommendation. They will submit their work to the Church Council for approval in most cases.
Guides are paid a stipend by the Western North Carolina Conference through the Office of Church Development thanks to churches paying their apportionments and from a generous grant from the Reynolds Fund at the United Methodist Foundation.
It is important that your Task Force Teams make the best use of their time with their Guides and come prepared to work on their recommendation and continue that work between sessions with their Guides.
This study is an important part of understanding our history and present situation so that we may dream about the future. Please be as thorough as possible as you complete this report. You may edit your responses directly into Microsoft Word, or if you prefer a different word processing program, please save the report as a .pdf file. You will receive instructions on how to submit this report online.
The completion of this report is designed to be a group effort. This report is best completed by dividing the responsibilities among several people and groups. It is best to include as many paid and unpaid leaders as possible in compiling this information and discussing it.
This study is meant to be thorough, but not unreasonable. If there is information that would be too difficult to collect, please make a note to that effect and move on. This study has two purposes. First, this study is designed to help an outside team understand your church. Second, and more importantly, this study is designed to help church members to have an accurate understanding of the history and current situation of the church. This will be a document that your church will refer to for years to come. Churches that have completed this study have overwhelmingly indicated that having this information is worth the effort.
History and Description
Write a brief history of your congregation (three to four pages). Include those events that contributed to periods of growth or decline in the number of people participating. Please write in a factual style. Avoid the temptation to fluff the story for public relations and the temptation to inject personal commentary regarding past problems. Simply describe the events without qualitative judgment.
Write a summary of your congregational structure including the individuals or groups who are responsible for program decisions, budgeting and financial oversight, buildings and grounds, and any other major interests of the congregation. List committees, task forces, program teams, etc., and explain how these relate to boards or councils. Provide a chart that reflects your current organizational structure.
Provide a list of all people who oversee specific areas of service (paid and unpaid positions, such as children’s minister, choir director, etc.). List the number of positions for which they are responsible in their oversight. State whether these persons are full-time, part-time, volunteer staff or lay leaders.
Provide a list of all full and part-time program staff positions for the last ten years, or from the beginning, if founded more recently. List schools and degrees for full-time program staff. Supply dates of employment and state the reason why staff left.
- Prepare a chart and graph for each of the following items for each year over the last twenty years, or entire history if founded more recently. Please list pre-2020 pandemic numbers followed by current numbers you are seeing since re-opening after the pandemic. List worship attendance for on-line worship if you tracked your on-line participation. (Note if you are continuing your on-line worship services while going back to in-person worship services following the pandemic.)
- Number of regular participants in the ministries of the church.
- Average attendance of your weekly worship services.
- Number of Small groups/classes.
- Average weekly attendance of all your small groups and classes combined.
- Number of baptisms of infants to youth through age 17.
- Number of baptisms of adults ages 18 and older.
- Estimate the average age of the people participating in the various activities of your congregation. State how this was determined.
- State the percentage of people who attend your worship services who also attend some small group such as a bible study, prayer group, class, support group, or service team. Count each individual only once.
- List the total receipts and total expenditures for each of the last 20 years or for your entire history if founded more recently.
- Without listing names, state the amount given by each of the top twenty contributors of record in the last fiscal year. Total these amounts and state the percentage of giving this total represents in relation to total contributions. Place an asterisk by any contributors who are above age 72.
- State the total number of contributors to the congregation during the last fiscal year and the average amount given per contributor during the last fiscal year.
- For the last 10 years, give the amount given to missions, state/national ministries, and other outside ministries of the church.
Write a brief overview of the area and community in which the congregation is located or which the congregation serves. This overview should include each of the following features:
- Income levels (be specific with numbers/percentages within ranges)
- Education levels (be specific within levels)
- Social, ethnic and religious diversity (be specific with percentages within ethnicity)
- Age distribution (be specific with percentages within age groupings)
- Growth/decline trends
- Retail development
- Other characteristics you deem significant
** If you have access to the Mission Insite demographic software, a QuickInsite report will be sufficient of the same characteristics. for items b – g (All Western North Carolina Conference UMC churches have access to Mission Insite. Contact Candy Caron if you do not know how to access it.)
Briefly describe the square mile that surrounds the primary location of the congregation using some of the same characteristics.
Beliefs and Practices
- List mission, vision, and the core values as practiced by the congregation.
- List other important commitments or practices that characterize the congregation (written or unwritten), such as:
- Covenants or Codes of Conduct
- Key Social Issues
- Political Positions
- Regular Activities
- Significant Financial Commitments
- Please send one copy of this self-study in electronic form to the email address provided on the cover sheet of this document. Please include copies of the following documents:
- Last two pastor’s report two charge conference
- Last two annual budgets and financial statements
- Sample bulletins for one month and/or two newsletters
- Any policy statements
- Other printed documents you deem helpful in providing insight into your congregation
After the self-study information has been compiled, the board (or similar leadership team of the church) and staff need to discuss the following questions as a group before printing the results in final form.
Please include the general consensus on each of these discussion questions in the report. If general consensus cannot be reached, please state such. Be sure to give the date when this discussion took place and list those involved in this meeting.
- What are the three greatest strengths of this congregation, listed in priority order?
- What three changes would you like to see made in your church, listed in priority order?
- Do the leaders want this congregation to grow significantly?
- Are the leaders willing to make the difficult decisions required for change and growth?
- How do you know this?
Prayer and Bible Study for the Transformation Journey Discovery Experience 30 Days of Preparation
Follow Jesus Make Disciples Transform the World
The mission statement of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God---what is good and acceptable, and perfect.”
The Church Transformation Journey is a two- to- three-year journey of discovery for local churches where they will engage with scripture, partner with a Navigator and Guides, and together live into God’s calling for their church and their role in transforming the world.
Churches are invited to host a Discovery Experience where church leaders and members come together to hear about the Church Transformation Journey from a Discovery Experience Team and discuss and pray about its potential for their church. The Discovery Experience Team will prepare a report in which up to five recommendations will be made for the church to engage. The congregation will hold two Town Hall meetings to discuss
the Transformation Journey Report and its recommendations. Then they have a called Charge Conference
to vote on whether to participate in the Transformation Journey process of receiving trained Guides to assist them in fulfilling their recommendations. If approved, a Navigator and Guides will be assigned to work closely with their pastor/s and church leaders over the next two to three years to implement their Transformation Journey recommendations.
To prepare for a Discovery Experience, the church names a team of church leaders who are willing to spend thirty days in preparation for the Discovery Experience by studying scripture and praying for their church
and community and for the Discovery Experience. They will meet for four guided Bible Study sessions while engaging in strategic prayer throughout the month. These are designed for one-hour sessions. They could be a Sunday School lesson, weeknight sessions, or used in another learning context.
Why Does the Church Exist and What Should it Be Doing?
(Rom. 12: 1-2; Matt. 22:37-39; Matt. 28:19-20; Matt. 25:35-40)
We Function as a Body Endowed with Wonderful Gifts
(Rom. 12: 3-8)
Living Like Jesus
Praying for Transformation
(Sharing about the month of strategic praying;
sharing of hopes and dreams for the upcoming Transformation Discovery Weekend; optional to conclude with Holy Communion).
(Romans 12: 1-2)
Rev. Rob Hutchison, Director of Church Development 704-714-2352
Rev. Dr. Nancy B. Rankin, Transformation Journey Coordinator 704-363-1695
Prayer and Bible Study
Session One: Why Does the Church Exist and What Should it Be Doing?
Romans 12:1-18 Have the group read the passage aloud asking people to volunteer reading two verses each until the passage is completed.
Paul appeals to the Romans to “present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship.”
Why did he ask that they present their bodies rather than their heart or soul or mind?
The body speaks of wholeness; it would include the heart, mind, and soul. It is the body that carries out the bid- ding of the mind and heart and soul. Hands can soothe or strike; legs can take us to places of service or places of vice. Eyes can look at another with love or with hatred.
What kinds of things are we doing as individuals that God would consider, “holy and acceptable?”
What then are the implications of this for when we say the church is the body of Christ? How are we the hands, legs, heart, mind, and soul of Christ? When Christ acted what are some of the things he did? He healed people of their afflictions; he preached the word of God; he called and taught the disciples; he advocated for the poor, the widow, the orphan. He called out people who acted unjustly.
What kinds of things are we doing as God’s church that God would consider, “holy and acceptable?” When has our church acted like Jesus did?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God---what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Transformation is “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” We all know how human beings tend to dread change and resist it at all costs. Transformation is more than change and leaps from our abilities to the realm of Divine Intervention because thorough and dramatic change is beyond human capability. Transformation is only possible in concert with God. This is where Paul singles out the mind because the body does the mind’s bidding. He understood that transformation is the outcome of renewal. The “so that,” in his phrase is import- ant. Why go through the challenge and stress of change, much less transformation except to please God? And because we are Christians, we want to please God. We pray for the renewal of our minds so that we can discern what is the will of God. What does God want us to do? And to be clear, Paul says we are looking for what is good and acceptable, and perfect,” in God’s eyes.
And we know from our scriptures many examples of what God considers good, acceptable, and perfect: (Here the group could do some Concordance research approached like a scavenger hunt).
Some questions for the group to ponder individually and then share in pairs:
(What would be a good change for me to make; my church to make; and both would impact the world in a better way?)
Have volunteers read Matt. 22:37-39; Matt. 28:19-20; Matt. 25:35-40. Divide them into 3 groups and assign each one of these passages. Ask them to ponder how these scriptures represent “non-negotiables” in the Christian faith. Then ask, what does a church look like that lives out these scriptures? Have them place their answers on newsprint and then share from each group to the total group.
Talk about how important prayer is in preparation for their Transformation Challenge Discovery Experience. Ask the group to name ways they want to pray in the coming week: a certain time of day each day? What kinds of things do they want to ask God for: to be open to God’s leading? That we would be willing to hear different viewpoints with respect and openness? That we would ask God to take away our fears about the changes that might be needed for us to become a healthier church? Ask for their commitment to intentionally pray in the week to come for the things they have discussed as their prayer foci.
Session Two: We Function as a Body Endowed with Wonderful Gifts
(Romans 12:3-8) Read the passage aloud with volunteers reading two verses each until the passage is completed.
Verse 3 begins as though there will be an admonition to be humble but rather following, “I say to everyone among you not to think of yourselves more highly than you ought---” Paul says, rather than, “be humble,” instead says, “but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” And Paul recognizes that even as we strive to discern with “sober judgment,” we come at that task from a variety of stages of faith. His emphasis on variety is centered in his theme of unity of the body. Paul Achtemeier in his commentary on Romans says:
“That unity cannot be reduced to sheer uniformity, – “Indeed, that analogy of the body not only allows for, but even emphasizes the necessity of, diversity, a diversity based on the multifaceted abundance of God’s grace itself.”
(Interpretation Series, Romans, Achtemeier, page 196)
The list of spiritual gifts in this passage, prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, generosity, diligent leadership, compassion, and cheerfulness, is not an exhaustive list of the spiritual gifts. Other lists of spiritual gifts occur in I Corinthians 12:1-31; Ephesians 4:1-16; 1Peter 4:10-11.
Spiritual gifts are not something that we earn or that we have because one of us is superior to another. They are not really for us but are to be used to glorify God and to edify others. God gives believers spiritual gifts as an act of His grace. These gifts are not your natural talents like the ability to sing or be a good athlete. Using your spiritual gifts may employ some of your natural talents but the gifts are clearly for honoring God and not about advancing your fame or improving your score.
And Paul in the I Corinthian text makes the point that not only do we have differing spiritual gifts; we are joined together in an interdependence that makes the body function and thrive. An eye may not look like a hand, but one needs the other, nevertheless.
Have the group share in groups of 3-4 what they may know about their own spiritual giftedness. Then have them name others in their congregation that they have seen evidence of their spiritual gifts being used to serve God and their community. Ask them to imagine the loss to their body of Christ, their church, if any one of them no longer shared their spiritual gifts. Imagine together about the people their congregation has yet to welcome into their midst and what sorts of gifts they would bring to their body, their church. (Provide participants with a Spiritual Gifts Inventory if they have not taken one before).
Using our spiritual gifts may not be the primary way we earn a living as some of us may teach Sunday School, but we earn our living in finance or retail. But Paul is stressing that all of our lives, both professional and within the church, are of importance to God and can be used by God for the building of His Kingdom. And Paul notes that we are different people saying, “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so, we who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”
Talk together in your groups of 3-4 about how the unity of the Christian Community redefines what we normally think of as “family.” Name some ways we can help more of our congregation feel like they belong here. How do we help new people feel welcome among us? What could we do better in living as an interdependent body of Christ, his church? Share your answers with the whole group.
Our prayer focus for this week will be on asking God to help us use our spiritual gifts for his glory and to help others. Let us pray to be more welcoming and intentional about honoring all the members of our congregation as valuable and vital to our body of Christ. Let us pray for the people in our parish God is calling us to make our friends and thereby introduce them to our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Session Three: Living Like Jesus
(Romans 12:9-18) This week have one volunteer read the passage slowly. Ask the other participants to listen and note what phrase most challenges them. Have them share their challenge briefly with the group.
We have heard many times that the mission of the church is to “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ.” But what exactly is a disciple? A dictionary definition is that a disciple is “a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles. And a disciple is “a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.” Or “someone who adheres to the teachings of another.” A basic definition is that a disciple is a learner. A longer definition is that a “disciple of Christ is one who believes his doctrine, rests on his sacrifice, imbibes his spirit, and imitates his example (Matthew 10:24; Luke 14:26; Luke 14:27; Luke 14:33; John 6:69). (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
In groups of 3-4 have participants share with one another about someone who helped them know Jesus, who influenced their decision to become a believer and strove to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. What do they most remember about that person’s witness? Share briefly with the total group the attributes of the persons who most helped them know Jesus.
Read over the passage again silently.
So often in the church we ask people to serve on committees or task forces whose work happens most often within the walls of the church. But to be a follower of Jesus we are to live and act like Jesus, much like the list of admonitions in our passage. More of our influence as a disciple of Jesus will occur beyond the walls of our church buildings. Our witness as a disciple should be evident in our homes, in how we treat our family members. It should be evident in our workplaces, our school rooms, and playgrounds, in our leisure activities, and among friends, acquaintances, and even strangers.
In groups of 3-4 talk about how your congregation prepares people to live like Jesus beyond our church’s walls. Which of the admonitions listed by Paul in our passage do we do well as a church? Where do we need more emphasis? What might our influence as a church be enhanced if we spent more energy on which admonition? For the prayer focus this week commit to praying that God would work within you to help you live more like Jesus. Pray for God’s guidance to improve your witness for Christ in how you relate to others. Pray for your congregation to so positively impact its community that people will know we are disciples of Jesus Christ. Pray for the upcoming Discovery Weekend of your church’s Transformation Journey.
Session Four: Praying for Transformation
(Romans 12:1-2) Have one volunteer read the passage.
As a reminder from Session One:
Transformation is “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” We all know how human beings tend to dread change and resist it at all costs. Transformation is more than change and leaps from our abilities to the realm of Divine Intervention because thorough and dramatic change is beyond human capability. Transformation is only possible in concert with God. This is where Paul singles out the mind because the body does the mind’s bidding. He understood that transformation is the outcome of renewal. The “so that,” in his phrase is important. Why go through the challenge and stress of change, much less transformation except to please God? And because we are Christians, we want to please God. We pray for the renewal of our minds so that we can discern what is the will of God. What does God want us to do? And to be clear, Paul says we are looking for what is good and acceptable, and perfect,” in God’s eyes.
Asking your church to consider going through a Transformation Journey is an act of faith. It is a step toward allowing the power of God’s Holy Spirit to lead us where God wants us to be as a community of faith. We live in challenging times. What we did in the past as churches does not seem to connect with people like it did before. Yet, we know people still need God as revealed through his son, Jesus Christ. There are still people in pain and despair; people lost in their own sinful choices; people without hope and who are desperate.
Some of them are complete strangers to us and others live in our own homes. It is the love and sacrifice of Jesus that can transform their lives and our lives as well. This Transformation Journey is not about having a program in a box that will instantly make the changes we need without any of the pain change can bring. It is, instead, an opening of our hearts and minds to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit so that we can discern what is “the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect,” for such a time as this, for our congregations and for ourselves.
You will not take this journey alone. Your Conference will be sending financial resources and human resources to walk alongside you. Clergy and lay Guides have agreed to come and help you with each of the areas you identify that God is challenging you to step toward. You and your congregation will decide through your 30 Days of Prayer and Preparation and during your Discovery Weekend what your plan of action will be. These Guides will sojourn with you along with your Church Vitality Specialist, your District Superintendent, and the Office of Church Development. We will be joining with you to help, as you ask of us, and together we pray we will be faithful to what the Lord requires of us all.
Share together some of your experiences of praying intentionally for your church, your community, and for yourselves over these last three weeks. What insights have you gained? What has inspired you the most? What pictures come to your mind about what your church could become in this Transformation Journey?
Pray together giving thanks for those people who discipled you and for those people who will one day name you as a person who discipled them as a follower of Jesus.
Close with your pastor leading the group in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Pray for your upcoming Discovery Weekend. Give thanks for how this passage from Romans has touched your life these last few weeks.
Town Hall Meeting Guide
(Note: These Meetings can be held virtually)
The Town Hall Meetings are an important part of the consensus-building nature of the Transformation Journey Process. Everyone should be invited to participate, and at least two town hall meetings should be held to facilitate busy schedules.
Town Hall Leadership
Town Hall Meetings should be led by a lay person of the church who is able to moderate discussion and ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. The pastor should be present for these meetings, and may offer her or his opinion, but should allow members to make their own decisions.
Town Hall Focus
The most important guideline for the Transformation Journey town hall meetings is:
We want to explore WHETHER and not HOW.
There will be a natural tendency to discuss how each of the recommendations will be fulfilled, and to think of all the obstacles that must be overcome. The vote before the church, however, is to ascertain whether or not the recommendations reflect the vision and desired direction of the church. If the church agrees that these recommendations are what God is calling them to work toward, Guides will be assigned to help the church think through how to accomplish each recommendation.
Town Hall Meeting Agenda
Begin with prayer.
- Establish guidelines for discussion. Here are a few suggestions:
Explain that the discussion is about WHETHER to adopt the recommendations, not HOW.
Let others speak before speaking again.
Limit comments to 3 minutes.
- Read each recommendation and allow people to ask questions for clarification and give feedback on each one.
For anything that is not clear, let them know you will consult with the Transformation Journey Discovery Team Leader and bring the new information back to the next meeting.
- Helpful discussion questions:
Which recommendation would be the most challenging for our church and why?
Which recommendation excites you the most and why?
- Close with an invitation to continue praying about this process.
- The Pastor should contact the Transformation Journey Team Leader to discuss any issues raised at the town hall meeting.
Charge Conference Guidelines
This document provides guidelines for conducting a Transformation Journey Charge Conference.
- This is a called Charge Conference dedicated to the approval of the Transformation Journey report and shall be the only item of business. No other business may be brought before the body.
- The proposed report was created from an action of the church council (or similar body), and therefore does not require a motion or second.
- The report must be accepted in its entirety, accepting all recommendations or none, without amendments.
- Open with prayer. This could be the pastor, D.S., lay leader, etc.
- The District Superintendent may give a brief devotional message. The devotion should not be designed to influence the church to accept the report. The church must make this decision on its own for the process to be successful.
- In-person voting should be done with secret ballots given to those who are current members of the Charge Conference. There is no proxy voting in UMC Charge Conferences. Those Charge Conference members who are present are the people who can vote.
- Virtual or hybrid voting via Zoom and/or Conference Call should identify for the counters the names of the people voting.
- Ballots are to be immediately collected and tallied.
- It is appropriate to sing a hymn or perform another act of worship while waiting for the results if paper balloting is involved.
- Number of yes votes divided by the total number of yes and no votes (abstentions do not count toward the vote) will give the percentage.
- Example: 70 yes votes, and 30 no votes = 70/100 = .70, or 70%
- Votes of 69.5% or better can be rounded up to the required 70%
- Example: 32 yes votes, 4 no votes = 32/36 = 89%
If the vote is 69.5% or greater:
- Offer words of celebration
- The pastor, Rob Hutchinson, Nancy Rankin, and the District Vitality Associate will meet soon after the vote to decide on the first and subsequent recommendations and choose their first Guide who will work with the church on its first recommendation.
- Remind the church that the Transformation Journey Process is a careful process that can extend over a three-year period. They may not see a lot of activity, but there will always be something happening in the background.
If the vote is less than the required 69.5%:
- Let the congregation know that their participation in the Transformation Journey Process ends immediately. No guides will be assigned, and there will be no further follow-up. This is the conclusion of the Transformation Journey Process for their church.
- Reassure the church that this is not failure. They have gone through a healthy process and have a report that the church leadership may use as a resource for moving forward. For one reason or another, this is not the proper tool to use in the church currently.
- In the case of a split vote, encourage them to focus on vision casting for the future to find the ideas and spiritual truths that unify the body.
Thank everyone for their participation in this important time of the church.
Close with prayer.
Minutes of the Charge Conference
This form is to be used to record the official minutes of the Transformation Journey charge conference vote. Copies of this report should be filed with the recording secretary, pastor, district superintendent, and the Office of Church Development.
The Charge Conference for the ___________________ Church of the _____________________
District of the Western North Carolina Conference Church mailing address: _________________
Church Telephone Number: ___________________ Email Address: ______________________
The Church Conference was held on ___________________ at __________________________
Chaired by: ________________________________________________, District Superintendent.
_____________________________________________________________ served as Secretary.
Pastor in Charge: ____________________________ Other Clergy: _______________________
A devotional service was conducted by: _____________________________________________
The following members were present: (attach an Attendance Record)
Voting on the Transformation Journey Report
Copies of the report were made available.
The process of the Transformation Journey was previously approved by the church’s governing body, and therefore, acceptance of the report does not require a motion or a second.
The official motion before the body is as follows: We accept the Transformation Journey Report and agree to work with Transformation Journey Coaches to fulfill its recommendations.
The vote was taken by ballot, through Zoom polling, or other means of receiving votes from Charge Conference members.
The tally was as follows:
Votes for _____ Votes against _____ Abstentions _____
- The percentage was
( Votes forVotes for+Votes against ) ( Votes for Votes for+Votes against ): __________________
Did the motion pass?
Yes, the vote was 70% or more.
No, the vote was less than 70%.
The Vote having been accomplished, there was no further business. The meeting was adjourn
Pastor in Charge___________________________
Transformation Journey Covenant
Name of Pastor: _____________________
Name of Guide: _____________________
Title of Recommendation: _________________________________
Congratulations on choosing to follow the Transformation Journey Process! In addition to the prayer and Bible Study you have used in preparation for this time in your church’s life your partnership with a trained Transformation Journey Guide will be pivotal in helping you implement the recommendations your church has felt led by God’s Spirit to fulfill.
We ask that your Pastor and Leadership Team Members welcome your assigned Guide for each of your recommendations. Be up front and honest with your Guide and be present for your meetings with your Guide and open to the input of your Guide with a commitment to move forward on the recommendations your church has chosen. Your Guide is being compensated by the Western North Carolina Conference as a gift to your church in honor of your commitment to learning and growth. Please honor each other’s time and make the most of this special time together.
The Guide will keep a mileage log of their on-site work with their assigned church and submit it to the Office of Congregational Development each month for reimbursement. Other approved expenses will also be submitted on forms that will be provided.
The Guide is expected to meet with the Pastor and Leadership Team at least once each month via Zoom or in-person following safe Covid protocols. Between meetings you will determine with your Guide specific next steps to take in moving forward with your recommendations before your next meeting. Any scheduled meeting changes should be cleared with each other with at least a 48- hour notice except in cases of dire emergencies. Further communication can occur via phone or internet as you determine with your Guide.
Guides are to come prepared by reading the church’s Self-Study report and talking with the Pastor and Leadership Team Leaders regarding the recommendations that they will help the Team engage. They are to be positive and encouraging while also holding the Pastor and Team accountable for making progress.
The Leadership Team should keep notes so that assignments are clear, and communication can be shared with other church Leadership Teams when they work on their recommendations.
Guides, Pastors, and Leadership Team Members should address any issues that might arise among them with respect and Christian love. Concerns that cannot be resolved among you can be shared with your assigned Navigator who in turn can involve the Transformation Journey Coordinator. The Transformation Journey Coordinator may, in turn, involve the District Superintendent if needed. We want everyone involved to strive for this process to be a blessing for all who participate and be fruitful for God’s Kingdom work. We the undersigned have read this covenant and agree to its terms, with God’s help.
Transformation Journey Guide
Leadership Team Chairperson
Leadership Team Members: List on back if more space is needed.