Partnership for Missional Church is a three year journey (with an optional fourth year) that engages denominational systems and congregations in practices that help them discern what God is up to in their place, what we refer to as God’s preferred and promised future. We work with judicatory staff (Executive Presbyters, Bishops, District Superintendents), pastors and many levels of lay leadership to guide and assess the process. The partners we develop at all levels enter into a journey that begins with conversations that will ultimately bring together clusters of 6-12 congregations in a three year journey, with a possibility of a 4th year of learning and reinforcing the change. The PMC cluster meets for three times per year for three years, called Phases.
Phase One: Discovery
Congregations meet together to use tools, learn processes and share what they are learning about themselves and the ways they act as a community. The primary tools, developed by Church Innovations, include Church FutureFinder and the Congregational Discovery process. The congregations are lead to learn about themselves and their community context. They are called to discern how they function, how they might look to the surrounding community and how they might want to respond to all that they have learned with a new understanding of what God has in mind
Phase Two: Experimenting
The discoveries of the first year’s work are translated into experiments. Missional Engagement Teams (MET) take on the task of identifying and addressing the needs, challenges and desires identified in the Discovery Phase. They then experiment with how they might shape and change how the congregation responds to the preferred and promised future God has in mind for them. The teams are invited to use their imagination, try new things, and enjoy both successes and failures. These are short term experiments that allow for learning and responsiveness. Sometimes the chosen experiments create a whole new energy; sometimes they help the congregations discern a way to refine their dreams. It is an exciting time, a time of tension, as systems adjust to change. It is always a time of fruitful learning/action engagement.
Phase Three: Visioning for Embodiment
Having learned much in the first two years, Phase Three turns to the development of five documents that will help shape and guide the congregation into its future. The congregation will carefully take up the planning and implementation through developing their own:
- Missional Vocation Statement
- Vision for Embodiment
- Long Range Plan
- Smart Plans of Action
- Formation Plan
Phase Four: Learning and Growing (Optional)
All through the three year process pastors have been involved in developing spiritual disciplines and recognize ways to grow leadership within their congregations. Many congregations realize at the end of Phase Three that they were just at the beginning of significant and long lasting change. There are many ways for them to move forward and continue the journey of learning, experimenting, planning and effectively executing their plans. Some clusters elect to continue using Church Innovation services for a fourth year of learning and growing and reinforcing the changes and the new practices of spiritual discernment.