WCI Update – Discipleship Conversations


WCI February Update

In my experience, the whole church initiative is not a cut and dry, do things this way, type of initiative, but rather a challenge to look at the ways we currently do Church, and to help us question whether there might be some changes in ways of communicating and serving that can help us better reach people who are un- churched and are seeking some spiritual nourishment.

Questions we have asked as a group are: How can we keep the church relevant in today’s world? How can each church best make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in the speci c environment in which they are located? With all of the changes in society and the many di erent ways people commu- nicate, are there better ways to reach them? Where do we see God leading us as individuals and as a community?

Currently we are looking at ways nature has adapted to t better into speci c envi- ronments and considering if some adaptation may be bene cial to some churches. Certainly some of this has already happened over the years as small rural churches no longer do things exactly the same way as large mega churches. So far we have

a lot of questions and we will keep you informed as we progress along this road of seeking how God might guide our churches in the future. If you have any ideas
or concerns that you would like to share, please feel free to talk to one of the task force members from either St. Paul’s or Covenant. We will be meeting with the Great Falls teams shortly after the rst of February and we plan to put other articles in future newsletters to keep

you informed of any progress or new ideas being considered. ank you all for your patience as we travel this road together.
WCI Team Member – Jim Fishburn

Praying and Gathering to Learn

by Heidi Gold – Team Convenor

The WCI team has been meeting at our Gather and Pray sessions since we started in October. Our discussions have been guided in part by the book, e Good and Beautiful Community, by James Bryan Smith. He writes about a balance that is needed between personal spiritual formation and community engagement. He shares that at times, we tend to emphasize personal faith over social justice or vice versa, but if we can bring these two together, based on the true narratives about God, that this will then lead us to lives as a good and beautiful community of Christ-followers.

Each chapter is titled as a di erent ‘community’, such as: e Peculiar Community, e Hopeful Community, e Reconciling Community, etc. He de nes peculiar as di erent from the ordinary or the common. He suggests that Christians are not always di erent, but they ought to be, and often are. Peculiar is not bad, just some- thing di erent than what our culture is used to seeing. Like learning to slow down and live without being ruled by anger and praying for others that have done some- thing against you. is may be considered weird, or peculiar, because the world does not work this way. e other chapters continue to describe di erent perspec- tives or ideas and outlooks of our communities. e readings have generated good discussion and not everyone necessarily agrees with the author’s view. is varied viewpoint is helping us to iden-

tify the practices that will help us develop our churches into “Good and Beautiful Commu- nities” here in Helena.

Language and words are important, and the language in this book has helped me
to better understand the words in our tradition that I have been reading or listen- ing to for a long time. Here are a few that I have a deeper understanding of now: Community, Narratives, Fellowship, Unity, Believers, Apprentice, Genuine, Novice, eology, Spiritual, Religious, Admonish, and Peculiar.

Over the next months we will continue to explore understandings of healthy church communities and use tools like the 360 survey to bring ideas and support to the ministry we do at Covenant and St. Paul’s.

Learn and Imagine 1

The Whole Church Initiative (WCI) team had their first Learn and Imagine event on Saturday, Nov. 19. This is where the Helena group, made up of St. Paul’s and Covenant, gathered with the Great Falls church groups that have joined us in this adventure. We gathered at Covenant UMC and met our facilitator, Rev. Barry Padgett. Barry is a retired pastor that has led churches for many years in Great Falls, Billings and Missoula, and now lives in Missoula.

We were given abundant information and had great discussion. Here are just a couple of things that I learned and am still pondering. Did you know that congregations have lifecycles, like all living things? A church lifecycle begins at birth, moves through adolescence and adulthood, then to maturity, retirement, and then eventually death. Now, this is not meant to alarm anyone! I don’t see St. Paul’s anywhere near the end of life, but I do believe St. Paul’s has already had many lifecycles, starting with the first sermon given on a pile of logs in 1865 which later became the first church in Helena, and then evolving several times to where we are now. Whether our change and growth happened as a result of earthquake or necessity, we have continued to evolve as a church community. Remember, our faith is about resurrection, not resuscitation. This applies to our churches lifecycles too.

We also watched a TED Talk by Simon Sinek where he described ‘The Golden Circle’ (Watch it at https://goo.gl/9sKJaA). This idea could be applied to just about anything; business, marketing, ideas, people…life. But, it inspired our specific discussion on church community and mission. The Golden Circle has three circles, the center is ‘why’ (purpose), the next circle, around ‘why’ is ‘how’ (process), and the next circle around ‘how’ and ‘why’, is ‘what’ (product). The speaker stated that some organizations explain themselves starting with what, how, and why, but successful ones start from the inside out: why, how, what. People don’t buy what you have. They buy why you do it. People invest in things if they appropriately offer the “why” to help them run faster, look better, save time, or in our case become transformed disciples transforming the world to do good.

Our team has only just begun this journey of learning and sharing, and I am truly inspired and hopeful for what this work will do for the future of St. Paul’s, Covenant and Helena United Methodist Ministries.
— by team Convener Heidi Gold

Church 360 Survey

Our church is asking some important questions this week. We value your answers. We want you in the conversation! We are seeking to discover our people’s opinions and experiences in a variety of areas, so that we can determine our readiness as a group to step out into signi cant new mission endeavors. To take the Readiness 360 survey go to:

Enter our survey code: 7461613698

It will take less than 20 minutes to complete. Please complete the survey by midnight, Monday, November 21. Members of the Whole Church Initiative Team will be available after service to help you take the survey.

Learn and Pray – 2

Our second Learn and Pray section focused on our study book The Good and Beautiful Community.  We explored deeply the call for Christian communities to be peculiar, in that they often are counter cultural.  Our time began with a focus on where we saw God in our community over the last week.  A focus on how Christianity is not about prescriptive practices, but instead about creating discipleship methods that help people form their own conclusions on God-Filled living.  During this session we finished the ” The Deep Dive” and explored deeply what it might look like to create church that embraces new ideas and quickly finds ways to share God’s love through community and connection.  
Some things the group learned:
“We might want to have a summer gathering at Spring Meadow Lake!” -Berma S.
“Strongly encourage life outside the pews.”
“Pushing my envelop…and liking it.” -Heidi Gold
“Inclusive” -Bill A.

Learn and Pray – 1

Our team met to chart our course.  We watched the WCI  introduction video(Click to watch)  and then began our study together by engaging with a Night Line story from the late 90s called “The Deep Dive.”(Click to watch)  This story covered the need for our churches to think more innovative and less institutional.  The company in the movie is tasked with helping re-invent and design things that we use in our everyday lives.  As we engaged this with prayer and discussion we found people beginning to imagine church in a different way.  
Learn more about WCI: stpaulshelena.org/wci
Here is what the group learned:
“Fail often to succeed sooner.”  – Mike Faehnrich
“Whole Church Initiative is about much more than pastoral change.” -Bill Avey
“I learned what a good idea it is, to put all ideas on the table and take the best from each and build it.” -Hedi Gold
“A great start, fun group.” -Ron Guse
“I learned from the program “The Deep Dive,” that being playful can lead to invention.” -Berma Saxton