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GCI’s 3-Year Plan Toward Healthy Church

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

The story of Nehemiah and his team rebuilding the wall around the city of Jerusalem has often inspired me. While being cupbearer to the king of Persia, Nehemiah was concerned that Jerusalem had been destroyed and the people were scattered. He lamented over this situation, weeping, praying, and confessing that Israel had forsaken God. As he prayed, a plan began to form for rebuilding the wall.

Nehemiah asked God to act on his behalf for favor from the king and provisions for the project. Invariably, in an enterprise of this scope, there are factors over which one has no control, so God must arrange them. (“Unless the Lord builds the house, the workers toil in vain.” Psalm 127:1) The king not only granted permission for Nehemiah to return to Israel, but he also made provision for Nehemiah to procure all the necessary building materials.

Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, and just as he had heard, he found the wall in ruins. He became more aware of the list of original inhabitants—Ammonites, Amorites, Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, and Perizzites. Any of these “ites” that remained in the land could be an enemy and a continual threat to Israel and its temple if a wall was not built and secured. It took courage and resolve for Nehemiah and his delegation to undertake this project.

Certainly, Nehemiah was a visionary leader, a pioneer, to see the possibility of a restored wall and a restored Jerusalem. But how would he rally the people to accomplish the fulfillment of the vision? Nehemiah was insightful to see how people are inclined to participate more fully if their efforts are in their own backyard. He rallied the families of Israel to first build the sections of the wall that were adjacent to their property and neighborhood. This coming together worked well to accomplish the great task before them.

How does the story of Israel and Nehemiah speak into the life of GCI in the 21st century? First, we have recognized that our church has not been in the state of health that we desire. As your President, I have lamented this for some time, and I know that many of our leaders and members have shared my concerns. I am the first one to confess to our Triune God that we have not been as intentional and active in making disciples as a healthy church should, nor have we been as intentional and active in equipping the saints for ministry as we should. We need to collectively cry out to God in confession and seek his guidance in transforming us into a church that is a healthier expression of Jesus.

The good news is that all 6 GCI Global Regions, under the leadership of their Superintendent, have been making measured progress towards developing elements of Healthy Church. However, each region is unique with different needs. It’s particularly easy to stall when you are limited by a lack of resources, ideas, or strategies that can work, along with the feeling of being stuck. It’s a bit like confrontation with Ammonites and Amorites. But what if we unite and excite? These “ites” can bring us together; after all, we are better together.

In the annual planning meeting with the Superintendents that took place February 13 -16, there was unanimous agreement on a 3-year plan toward the vision of Healthy Church. This 3-year plan is designed to bring movement through a collaborative team process, aligning our efforts in a way we have never done before.

The Process / High Challenge

  1. Each Superintendent, with a Development Coordinator and other key staff leaders, must prayerfully and strategically identify the healthier churches with capable pastors that can most benefit from the long term, high support of training and coaching.
  2. These pastors/congregations—which we’re calling “Vision” pastors/churches—will be invited into a 3-year process of training with a coach to provide support. In return, these Vision pastors/churches will commit to meeting a benchmark of Healthy Church expectations that display their commitment to GCI. It may take the collective effort of the group over the course of 2022 to fulfill this one assignment of committing to the process (and that’s okay).
  3. The Vision Pastors are then invited to attend workshops that take a deep dive into the Hope, Faith, and Love ministry Avenues (workshop templates have been beta tested in the US and can be contextualized for international sites). In each case, the pastor will bring the Avenue Champion along for training. Each workshop has follow-up materials that are sent home to continue training at the congregational level.
  4. Coaching will be provided for pastors and Avenue Champions. It is ideal for the Avenue Champions to be connected with a cohort group and a skillful coach for the continuation of learning and sharing post-conference. (A few regions will need to establish coaches, and help is available to train coaches).
  5. Determine a master plan and schedule for rolling out workshops. It seems logical that the Hope Avenue training will be done first (What will a new person come to and how will that experience go?), followed by the Faith Avenue for establishing the care for new and existing people, and finally the Love Avenue for how we become intentional in reaching new people.

Moving from concepts to application takes time. We are hopeful that doing this over the next three years will give us space for deeper learning and better application. We also want to assure our church around the world that we are committed to the ministry strategies we have established and that there is a strong commitment to follow through.

Resources / High Support

The US has been moving along these lines and learning the process as we go. Because our pilot program has been tested, we have the benefit of sharing what works well and what can be done better. Items that are available:

    • Workshop outlines with training material set in the context of an interactive learning style
        • If needed, workshop facilitators could be made available to participate alongside other Development Coordinators to jumpstart the process—through Zoom and possibly on-site in rare occasions.
    • Ministry tools on the GCI website
    • Video webinars for training
    • Cohort support from fellow Superintendents
    • The faith goal of having an international Development Coordinators cohort, similar to how we operate with the Communities of Practice (CoP) of our Superintendents (Read this story for a refresher on CoPs.)

The unity among the Superintendents is inspiring. And even with time zone challenges, all Superintendents want to meet by Zoom every 2 months to work toward the progression of the 3-year plan. The excitement of what we can accomplish together over the next three years is promising.

May I remind us to walk in the shoes of Nehemiah. Be visionary to see a better future. Be in prayer seeking God for the variables that are beyond us. Be courageous knowing that there are enemies to our plan, but also knowing that if God is for us then who can be against us. Be committed to staying the course of building out the wall of ministry in your backyard!

Better Together!
Greg Williams

2 thoughts on “GCI’s 3-Year Plan Toward Healthy Church”

  1. Thanks Greg for leading the church in a concentrated strategy in each area around the world and as the Lord uses those He has called out now to bear witness to Him He will lead to where He is Working. Ps 127:1

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