Feb 16, 2023

“I shall not fear the battle…nor wander from the pathway if thou wilt be my guide.”
(From “O Jesus, I Have Promised,” UM Hymnal, #396)

More than 50 EPA congregations are currently involved in the Pathways to Congregational Fruitfulness & Health guided discernment process with the help of assigned facilitators.   This winter, 25 more churches have begun the journey. The next launch date is May 1, with a registration deadline of April 1.  

Pathways offers a free, voluntary ministry of coaching pastors and launching spiritually guided strategic planning among lay leadership teams.  As congregations attempt to discern their paths forward to achieve congregational health and fruitfulness in these challenging times, our trained facilitators can help. They provide an outside resource in guiding those conversations and advising both the spiritual and management practices that can help lead the way.  

Assigned by our district superintendents who know their churches well, these facilitators are not charged with making specific recommendations, but rather helping the local church leadership assess its own strengths, challenges and possibilities, and then prayerfully discern a plan forward together.  During the 6-12 months of Pathways guidance, our facilitators increasingly focus attention on the local church pastor, rather than the whole team. They coach the pastor to lead the strategic planning as he or she appropriately and effectively orders the life of the church. 

Rev. Steve Morton

“We’ve got great enthusiasm for Pathways in Eastern PA, with over 50 churches jumping in since we launched it last summer,” said the Rev. Steven Morton, EPA’s Leadership Development Manager. He guides the training of facilitators, resources them and supports district superintendents in their work as missional strategists. He also helps churches determine their readiness to begin the Pathways facilitation process.      

“Primarily, folks are looking for help in deepening and broadening their vital ministries, especially coming out of the COVID pandemic and dealing with growing challenges in our culture and our church,” Morton explained. “They’re asking themselves, ‘What are the strengths of our congregation and the realities of our church facilities, our ministries and our neighborhoods? What does it mean to plan wisely and set goals under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?’” 

The next start-up period begins in May.