GCI President Update | January 2024
Happy New Year GCI Family and Friends!
We are entering year 24 of the 21st century. Are you as shocked as I am? Time marches on.
As we mark time in GCI, it is notable that we have been adopting the “Team Based – Pastor Led” model of ministry for more than five years. I refer you back to the book, A Giant Step Forward that I wrote along with Rick Shallenberger and Dr. Tom Nebel. This book is an informative introduction to anybody who is still wrapping their mind around the fundamental concepts. Last spring in Nairobi, I was impressed with the book references the Regional Director’s made in their workshop presentations. The book is a starter guide.
In collaborating across GCI’s six Global Regions, I along with the Superintendents have been following a Three-Year Plan in our pursuit of the vision, Healthy Church.
We started laying the foundation of the Avenues in 2020 with a theme of Focused on Hope, continuing with Faith Forward in 2021, then entered into 2022 guided by the theme Compelled by Love.
With 2022 as our first year following the three-year plan, we chose this theme knowing that our congregations must get outside of the walls of their church buildings and into the neighborhoods to positively impact the lives of their neighbors. We have seen much progress in this area, as you read throughout the year in GCI Update. (Please continue to share your celebratory stories!)
In 2023 we embraced the theme of “Faith, Hope and Love in Action.” Many congregations have identified Avenue Champions and aligned their ministries and budgets with the three avenues. I’m encouraged by the positive movement the regional directors and superintendents share with me. However, they have also shared that we may be attempting to move faster than we need to.
To move in alignment with the pace of our congregations globally, we are emphasizing the development of team building between Avenues under the theme of Faith, Hope, and Love Integrated. We recognize that the learning process unfolds at its own pace, and our commitment is to ensure experiential learning, allowing the necessary time for growth and understanding.
David Kolb is a psychologist who developed a theory around four stages of learning. I find his work to be informative for our situation in GCI. His stages are:
- Concrete Experience (feeling)
- Reflective Observation (watching)
- Abstract Conceptualization (thinking)
- Active Experimentation (doing)
These stages typically run through a cycle with the desired end of the student becoming a practitioner, who can then teach others. The cycle normally starts with being exposed to new information and assimilating the material being taught. The cycle is reinforced when the student can observe others who are actively practicing the concepts. We mastered these stages between 2020-2022.
Further assimilation occurs when the student thinks more deeply about how these learned and observed practices can be utilized in his or her setting. The next level of learning comes by doing, this would include experimentation with the new concepts and practices. This is where we are our adoption of the Team Based – Pastor Led model.
This teaching and learning style, of experiential learning, is evident in the way Jesus interacted with his disciples (I recommend watching the Chosen series for anybody who wants to watch the master at work). And I continue to remind all our pastors, ministry leaders, regional directors, superintendents, and anyone else who will listen that joining the flow of the Faith, Hope, and Love ministries is how we better join and participate with Jesus. It is how we become the healthiest expression of his church in our specific neighborhood.
Once we see more of our pastors, Avenue Champions, and congregations gain the experiential learning that comes from the activities of the Faith, Hope, and Love ministries, we will move to the next stage of development toward Healthy Church. For 2024, we are more than willing to practice more, learn from the practicing, and see the new practices become normal rhythms in the lives of our churches.
Jesus knows where we are as a church and meets us there every minute of every day.
You are always in my prayers.