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Stages of Development for Congregations Source: George Bullard.

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1 Stages of Development for Congregations Source: George Bullard

2 Life Stage Diagnostics At what life stage is your congregation? On chart, caps represent major influence on VIPM (Vision, Inclusion, Program, Management), small letters as present but not major At plateaus, churches have opportunity to re- cast vision, redevelop, and grow

3 The Progression Mega moves: Growth/Prime/Redevelopment/Aging 5 Major Phases: Early growth Late growth Prime/plateau Early aging Late aging

4 VIPM Vision, Inclusion, Program, Management The four basic organizing principles of the MidSize congregation Dominance or recession of these 4 traits helps to identify church placement

5 “V” -- Vision Mission Dream Energy Purpose Leadership

6 “I” -- Inclusion Evangelism Outreach Assimilation Discipleship

7 “P” -- Programs Ministries Services Activities Training

8 “M” -- Management Administration Policy Structure Resources

9 The Life Cycle From birth to death of the congregation 80% of North American Protestant congregations are somewhere on the “maturity --> death” side of the curve

10 1. Birth Vipm Vision dominant Will take anybody who gives an offering First 3-5 years A sense of euphoria in fellowship and worship

11 2. Infancy VIpm “Inclusion” joins Vision and flavors the church’s identity Next 3-5 years Draw invisible circle of who’s in/out  Tend to do doctrinal studies

12 3. Childhood ViPm Programs replace Inclusion dominance Begin to build programmatic framework that will tend to last first generation of church Lasts till congregation is years old

13 4. Adolescence VIPm Age Program structures are working to the point that they are inclusionary structures Though management is underdeveloped Awkward with size/resources for consistent and smooth application High emotional vacillation Multiple visions begin to emerge (next staff?)

14 Sidebar: The first building? When did you join the church? People who joined during birth-infancy want the first building project to be a worship center (worship/fellowship) Those who joined during childhood want first building to be education or recreation space (to develop programs)

15 Sidebar: First new staff? Multiple visions begin to emerge Those who joined during birth-infancy tend to want staff person to increase pastoral care Those who joined during childhood tend to want staff to do 2-3 things needed to develop the program of the church

16 5. Adulthood years, lasts 5-7 years, VIPM Rewrite constitution, decision-making, policy manuals (formalize management) Often symbolized in new worship center that embodies the early vision/dream Yet a “not-quite-it” feel Entry into “Prime” time

17 6. Maturity vIPM Time of excellence, quality, efficiency in church Some signs of malaise Members can’t articulate vision anymore Money doing great – masks stage! The best time for congregation to redevelop But churches often don’t want to rock the boat and renovate

18 7. Empty Nest vIpM Identifiable disintegration of program quantity and quality Church first gets nostalgic, then disappointed, then angry Redoubled efforts—”Avis”  Church tries harder but not necessarily smarter Finding “demon” (usually pastor), blaming, going for quick fix

19 Sidebar: Who’s your focus? Church in maturity focusing on wanting teenagers are longing for yesterday Church in maturity who wants seniors is dealing with today Church wanting young adults with families is looking to the future

20 8. Retirement viPM Folk are at least 60 years old, have been Christians for 40, and members of this congregation for 20 Outward appeal to prospective pastor to lead in new era may not be congruent with what they really want: To bring the crowd into the church w/o changing the nature of who we really are (power structure)

21 9. Old age vipM Carrying out the habit or pattern of being “church” Chaplaincy outposts and preaching stations Can do so years in holding pattern Only management exists as organizing principle, and it’s wavering

22 10. Death m (no VIP at all) Desire is gone What to do with the body?

23 Leadership Tasks After diagnosing stage of church, there are appropriate leadership tasks to be matched that replenish what a congregation has lost in V, I, P, or M On the “growing” side of the curve, church growth happens through emphasizing the characteristics of the next stage i.e. teach infants to act like children

24 Stages of Development for Congregations Copyright John P. Chandler, 2000


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