Vital Church Initiative

Your VCI questions from Michigan Area UMC on Vimeo.




The Vital Church Initiative (VCI) is a process of renewal for growing healthy, vital, fruitful, missional congregations in the Michigan Area of the UMC. Today many of our congregations find themselves on a plateau or in decline. VCI offers our pastors and congregations a better future, as the process offers hope to leaders of congregations that have lost their outward focus. VCI prepares them for systemic change that will enable them to once again answer God’s call to reach out to new people with the Good News.

The overarching expectations are to be:

  • Christ-Centered
  • fruitful
  • aiming for excellence
  • accountable
  • collaborative

The process includes:

  • Developing a new vision and the strategy for its communication and implementation
  • Motivating a congregation to embrace a new vision and mission
  • Developing resources, ideas and personnel to prepare for change
  • Embracing and implementing change
  • Embedding a new DNA into the life of a congregation
  • Providing new tools and training to be the church for the 21st century
  • Providing prescriptions for action

The Initiative involves:

  • coaching for the pastor and congregation
  • laity training
  • congregational assessment
  • a consultation event that provides prescriptions based on the congregations strengths and concerns
  • accountability and goal setting
  • evaluation of results.

A trained coach will walk along with the congregation as they work to fulfill the prescriptions from the consultation event. We know that systemic change occurs as a result of hard work, but the gain far outweighs the pain. Once change has occurred, a whole new world of opportunity opens up and once again a congregation and pastor can enjoy the fruits and love of being an outwardly focused church bringing new people to Christ. Our goal is to equip leaders to lead a congregation back into God’s mission field.

The VCI Executive Team of the Michigan Area:

Dirk Elliott, Director of New Faith Communities and Congregational Development - Detroit Annual Conference

Gary Step, Director of New Church Development and Congregational Transformation - West Michigan Conference

Naomi García, Ministry Consultant and VCI editor - West Michigan Conference

Jerry DeVine, Director of Connectional Ministries - Detroit Annual Conference

Benton Heisler, Director of Connectional Ministries - West Michigan Conference


Want to know more?

Larger Church Path is for congregations with an average worship attendance greater than 101.

Smaller Church Path is for congregations with an average worship attendance of 100 or fewer.

Click here to download a printable brochure.

Click here to fill out an application for Phase I.

West Michigan Conference, United Methodist Church 11 Fuller SE, PO Box 6247, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6247 | 616-459-4503 | | site by BRT