Vital Growth Mission Team

The Vital Growth Mission Area Team’s mandate will focus on UCC identity, local church evangelism, member retention, parish revitalization, new church starts, marketing and advertising.  The Vitality and Growth Mission Area Team (or MAT) will assume the responsibilities formerly entrusted to the Commission for Church Development and the Communications Committee.

Facilitator:  Rev. Mike Cooper

Conference Staff person: Rev. Cheryl Burke

Purpose:  Making Space for the Transforming Love of God

The Michigan Conference’s Vital Growth Mission Area Team supports the growth of faithful vitality in your congregation and spurs the growth of new churches in our midst. Here are a number of resources available to your existing congregation or new church start vision:


The Vital Growth Mission Area Team has/is provided services in the following areas.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact us and/or check out the websites provided. Vitality Tool Box .

Convergence, formerly The Center for Progressive Renewal, supports the reshaping of organizations, congregations and leaders engaged in an age of movement from “organized religion” to “organizing religion” driven by the values of an inclusive, progressive theological vision for a more just world for all. The Michigan Conference works with Convergence to support vitality in local congregations.

The Michigan Conference UCC has purchased a Lifetime Access; please use the link below to your own virtual gathering of people, of faith and moral conscience:

Important Instructions:

  • Follow the link above
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page
  • Click “Enroll in Course for $249 FREE”
  • Fill out Form
  • Enter Code: 2020SUMMIT4EVER

The Center for Parish Development provides resources and consulting to transform churches for the sake of God’s mission.

Clergy Leadership Institute and Voyle and Voyle Consulting provide coaching, training and resources for church transformation.

GraceNet provides research, coaching and consulting in the effective spiritual leadership of new and revitalizing congregations.

The United Church of Christ’s Congregational Vitality Team offers a wealth of free, downloadable resources.

  • New Beginnings program for small churches considering a fresh start for ministry in their communities.
  • Grants from the Bertha C. Dayton Fund are awarded annually for assisting rural, small town or village churches in Michigan and supporting their pastors and families.

Applications will be available soon.

  • Author Anthony Robinson serves as speaker, teacher and coach in the area of church renewal and vitality.
  • Author, speaker and teacher Diana Butler Bass provides insight about the larger cultural trends affecting the church.

Church Development Start Up Kit. Please contact Lisa Soulliere for your own free kit.

Here’s an update on some resources and good practices around closure, legacy, and merger.

  • Consolidation, uniting (merger), collaboration, & adoption
    Several conferences report an increase in churches considering consolidation, uniting, collaboration, or adoption.
    Here is a news article, Robbinsdale Parkway UCC: A True Consolidation from the Minnesota Conference on two congregations that worked well to come together as a ‘new church’.
    Vital Merger is a resource suggested by Rev. Nayiri Narjian in Living Water Assoc. , OH.
    Church Mergers: A Guidebook for Missional Change 
    has been published by T. Bandy and P. Brooks
    God’s Ecumenical Ministries, Shared is an older resource written with our ecumenical partners on shared ministries,
    Ecumenical Shared Ministries Handbook is a more recent resource published by Canadian Ecumenical Ministries
    Multiply-Affiliated Congregations in the UCC is a research report published by UCC CARDD
  • A caring legacy
    A church in Wisconsin as part of their larger distribution of legacy assets set up a fund through the Conference Foundation to ‘provide for the on-going pastoral care needs of members who do not join other congregations.  Care would include regular visits, as-needed visits (i.e. hospitalization), and a funeral service’.    This legacy helps to ease and answer the often-asked questions about care for older, homebound members, or members in nursing homes.  A retired pastor has been hired for this ministry.  The church created a very complete legacy proposal document that uplifted the church’s mission to the UCC, the local community and spiritual/medical care of UCC members.  Contact Rev. Andrew Warner in WI conference for more information.
  • Closure and Legacy Coaching
    Indiana-Kentucky Conference trained a group of coaches to work with churches in transition, including closure and legacy.  Contact Rev. Monica Ouellette for more information.  Several other conferences have coaching or closure/legacy support groups.  I attached a copy of the powerpoint I shared in conversation with the IK coaches.
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