What’s “New Beginnings”?

New Beginnings, an innovative, redevelopment congregational program of the PC(USA)

Written by Jan Edmiston, Interim Associate Executive Presbyter for Ministry, Presbytery of Chicago

At the NEXTChurch conference last month in Charlotte, NC, Steve Eason of the Myers Park Presbyterian Church shared this:

Someone once said, “When a horse dies, it’s an excellent time to dismount!” (Anonymous).We (the Church) are prone to stay on our dead horses.

Alternatives to Dismounting a Dead Horse:

  • Buy a stronger whip. (Just beat it harder. You’re bound to get more life out of it!)
  • Appoint a task force to study the dead horse.
  • Put a memorial plaque on it. (That’ll keep it around.)
  • Name it something different.
  • Rotate riders . . . on a dead horse!
  • Call a pastor who is a “Horse Resurrector!”

I would make an additional suggestion: Participate in the New Beginnings Program of the PCUSA. Unlike most redevelopment programs, New Beginnings is a decision-making process for congregations who know that they need to make some important decisions about their congregation’s future, but they need some assistance.

  • Should we sell some property?
  • Should we call a part-time associate pastor?
  • Should we close and use the proceeds to start something new?

Of course, a decision to do nothing new, is also a decision.

The Commission on Ministry – through grants endorsed by the Presbytery Coordinating Commission – chose the four participating churches based on the commitment of their church leaders who attended the “Come and See” gathering in November 2012. The four participating congregations are: Crerar Memorial (Chicago), First Presbyterian (Homewood), Kirk of the Lakes (Mundelein), and Lansing Presbyterian. They will tell you that this is hard work as New Beginnings involves:

  • A “Come & See” Gathering to learn more.
  • A full assessment of neighborhood demographics, church demographics, building and grounds conditions, etc. which is compiled into a report.
  • Training key leaders (about 7% of your average worship attendance) how to lead house meetings for the congregation.
  • Participation of 50% of your worship attendance in house meetings.

These congregations will come up with a future story for their church. And, which of our churches doesn’t need to be pondering their future story?

We will let you know what decisions these congregations make later this summer, and our hope is that more churches in the Presbytery of Chicago will be able to participate in the future!

New Beginnings photo album from Homewood First.

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