A few years ago, our conference worked with Paul Borden to develop the Matthew 28 Initiative. This initiative is “a strategy for transforming congregations to greater fruitfulness in making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
This is the third year of Matthew 28 in our conference. As I understand it, there are approximately 45 churches in the initiative, including the nine that began this year. Centre Grove applied to enter the initiative last January, and is currently in the process. In fact, we are now entering the most critical stage of the Matthew 28 process!
There are three major components of the Matthew 28 process. First, pastors participate in a mentoring group for one year (my group started in January). We read a book, meet and discuss it, and conclude the day with a time of spiritual formation (the formational time is led by a different pastor in the group each month).
Second, a consultation takes place at each church. Centre Grove’s consultation starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday morning (we submitted a congregational self-study report a month ago). The team (made up of the district superintendent, a consultant, and a coach) will spend all day Friday conducting various interviews (with me, several leaders, and a focus group of about 20-30 people). On Saturday, the consultant will teach a workshop, then the team will spend Saturday evening writing prescriptions. The consultant will preach Sunday morning. After the sermon, the consultant will present the team’s report, including a list of prescriptions.
The prescriptions are intended to help us be more fruitful in our mission of making disciples. Each task comes with a deadline, all to be completed within the next year.
The church will have a month to consider the prescriptions before voting on them in a special church conference. If the church votes to accept the prescriptions, we will work with the coach for one year. The coach will guide us and help us stay on track. A coaching relationship is the third component of the Matthew 28 initiative.
Personally, I believe the real benefits of the initiative are not necessarily the prescriptions (whatever they are) as much as the accountability we will have with the coach and also the energy and intensity of trying to accomplish so much in the next year.
I am excited about this process. After spending two years leading Centre Grove through an engagement of Bishop Schnase’s Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, we felt Matthew 28 was the next faithful step. This weekend, and more importantly next month’s church vote, will determine our course of action for some time to come (either in working on the prescriptions or in regrouping!).
As we enter into the heart of the Matthew 28 process this weekend, my hope is that this experience will be energizing, inspiring, and challenging for all of us. It should force us to seek God. It may cause us to wrestle with what it means to be the church!
It should be fun!