As we wind down 2020 and look forward toward 2021, it is a good time to think about our highest priorities as a global fellowship.
As I travel the world and interact with our Superintendents and Regional Directors, the unified answer to the question of “What is our greatest need?” is the development of new leaders. Our church is aging and if we are not investing in younger men and women then our future could be in jeopardy.
At the denominational level, we have been listening and are continuing to respond in tangible ways. We have Grace Communion Seminary offering graduate-level degrees in theology and pastoral ministry, and we have Ambassador College of Christian Ministry offering a Ministry Certificate that is being utilized in many regions of GCI. The vision of “Healthy Church” means that we have educated pastors and ministry leaders.
We have been making progress in becoming more educated, but we have further to go. In churches where “Team-based Pastor-led” is being utilized, the Faith, Hope, and Love ministry champions could easily enroll in classes that can enhance their knowledge base. I highly recommend that these ministry champions make the effort to enroll in a class and see how stimulating and helpful this experience can be, especially if you take courses together. There is something dynamic about being in a learning group that is also practicing ministry shoulder to shoulder. Be courageous and take this next step and sign up for an upcoming class.
The development of a new generation of leaders means that we must have practical learning opportunities where these emerging leaders can get their hands dirty and be able to skin their knees doing meaningful ministry. All GCI churches are making efforts toward better church health and all healthy churches should be practical training grounds developing new leaders, yet we have some spots where there is greater capacity and greater opportunity for young adults to learn. We are calling these sites “Ministry Training Centers” (MTCs).
MTC sites will work with interns who are undergraduate students who will be immersed in the Faith, Hope, and Love ministries of the church. Then the secondary level will be pastoral residents who are specifically learning pastoral skills. Working with these young men and women takes careful, focused attention over 4-6 years. It isn’t a rapid process, it is, however, methodical, and thorough, and will serve us well for the future of GCI with new leaders who are carefully prepared.
It costs $6,200 per year to provide the learning opportunity for an intern, and it costs $25,900 per year to support a pastoral resident as they pursue a master’s degree from Grace Communion Seminary, and simultaneously serve longer hours in the life of their church. Please understand that the interns and pastoral residents will be trained in fundraising skills and be required to raise a significant portion of their income and it is our hope that this experience will prepare them for future roles in church leadership. Their fundraising efforts will reinforce the program for others who come behind them.
Surrey Hills, Oklahoma, on the west side of Oklahoma City, is our first official MTC in the US. Their building, designed to house an MTC will be completed in 2021. We will continue to update this church’s progress as they engage in their neighborhood and intentionally work to develop younger leaders.
The church there was chosen because they have a dynamic leadership team that is well connected in the neighborhood and is already actively ministering. This project is a large undertaking and one that will require financial help through their infancy stage as they seek to add new members from the surrounding neighborhood. Operation expenses that involve utilities, internet, custodial, and maintenance will cost around $90,000 per year. The local church is sharing these costs and is planning to become completely financially self-sustaining within a few years, but this will take time and diligence. Paying for operations is not the most exciting part of ministry, yet these are real needs that either make or break a church.
In the US, we have established a GCNext fund to help underwrite the process and programs for developing new leaders. Donations to this fund will perpetuate the MTC strategy for developing a new generation of leaders.
I am working with our six Superintendents around the world to follow the pattern of establishing GCNext funding in their regions, to formalize an internship program that fits their context, and to identify their potential MTC sites. As this global network gets established, we will coordinate the operation of these sites under the guiding leadership of Cara Garrity.
Cara is a product of the intern / pastoral resident program, and now she is at the helm working with others to refine and improve our efforts. I invite you to watch the interview that I did with Cara and hear her story on the video interview series “We Are GCI” which will be released on the next issue of GCI Update.
If you are compelled to get behind the MTC strategy and the development of interns and pastoral residents, and we hope you will, please send your financial gift to the GCNext . Please consider making this gift in addition to your regular donations so current local missional operations will continue to be sustained. This additional gift will be an investment in the future of GCI as we participate with Jesus to grow his kingdom.
The Lord has been generous to GCI in providing us with good people and gracefully allowing us to learn how to best develop the next generation. We have good, dedicated senior leaders in place who are working with sound development strategies, and our programs are already spawning new innovative leaders. It is our long-range vision to have a network of successful MTCs around the world in addition to other healthy churches that are spawning new leaders. We are making the initial steps to take us in this direction. We envision every congregation participating with Jesus mentoring new leaders and being the church in their neighborhood. Healthy organisms reproduce and grow!
Your partnership with us through prayers and financial offerings is an investment in the next generation of pastors and ministry leaders. It is a great season for GCI, and we thank you for your participation!
I am Greg Williams updating you about the life of the church.
To send your financial gift to the GCNext fund visit gci.org/give2gcnext