September 4, 2018 — by Dana Allin


Stories of Church Transformation!

One of the highlights of this year for me has been to continue to be a part of the Church Transformation Cohort pilot project in western Pennsylvania. If you were at last year’s national gathering, during my talk you heard from Linda Synder and Jason Schepp about what God is doing in their congregations.  

I want to introduce you to two other pastors whose churches have been a part of the cohort. Henry Yoder, pastor of Church at the Rock and Justin Amsler, pastor of McDonald Presbyterian Church. These two were the first churches in the cohort to have their onsite consultation, which is part of the transformation process. At our May meeting of the cohort, Justin and Henry gave their update of what has been happening at their churches a year into the process. I was so amazed at what our great God is doing in their churches that I asked them to make a brief two minute video to share with our tribe.  




McDonald Pres has more people in leadership, using their unique gifts, than ever before.  They are pursuing exciting building renovations and staff hires.

I also want to put a couple of the numbers that Henry shared into perspective. At the time of the consultation, a year ago, Church at the Rock was worshiping 53 adults on a Sunday. They are now worshiping 75 adults. This is a 50% growth in one year!  Most impressive is the fact that 8 people have accepted Christ. The average church in America brings one new person to faith every year for every 100 people in average worship attendance. The Church at the Rock has seen one conversion for every seven people in worship.  If you only measured the success of a church in conversions, the average church has one conversion for every $300,000. Henry’s ratio is one conversion for every $11,000.

While Henry and Justin are the furthest along in the process, they are not unique.  While the average church that has been in ECO for more than 2 years has lost 2% in worship attendance the last year, the average church in the cohort has gained 15% in worship attendance. The average income of these churches is up 25% over the previous year.

What is most encouraging to me is that these congregations that are in the cohort are being led by the same pastor who has been there for a several years, not new pastors. The process provides the training, support, and encouragement for these pastors to lead the revitalizations.  Sometimes I hear pastors and churches say, “We would be able to grow if...”. This statement is followed by “… a younger pastor” , “…. an associate pastor” or “… a full-time pastor”. We have churches in the Western PA cohort that worship anywhere from 20 people on a Sunday to 400+ people on a Sunday.  All of these churches have something they would love to have in order to take the next step. But all of them are pressing on regardless of their current situation.

Henry is a part-time commissioned lay pastor in his 60s.  He and his church could have listed all of the reasons why their church couldn’t revitalize and couldn’t transform.  Yet they were willing to step out in faith. They were willing to be bold and aggressive. They were willing to take risks.  They were willing to admit that they needed some help in order to flourish.

As we continue to ask churches and leaders “What is your Flourishing Next Step?” perhaps the Church Transformation Cohort is the avenue through which God wants your congregation to flourish.

We have already started another cohort with churches from all over the country, and we will launch another one in the Spring of 2019.  If you would like more information you can contact Kim Davis kim@eco-pres.org.

I pray that as you enter into the new ministry year this fall, that you and your churches will flourish in your pursuit of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

Dana


Dana Allin

Rev. Dr. Dana Allin is the Synod Executive for ECO. He previously served as ECO President before accepting the call to be Synod Executive. Dana's passion to encourage and inspire leaders have led him to develop both the Missional Leader Training program and the Coach Certification Process.

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