Taking Church to the Next Level

March 16, 2017

In the fall of 2016, Galilee was identified by district leaders of the United Methodist Church as a congregation with unique qualities that would allow us to grow and become more effective in ministry. Not every church was judged to be in that position, but only a handful of churches. What Galilee, and churches with gifts like Galilee, needed was a helping hand in identifying positive new steps that we could take to reach a higher order of effectiveness—Galilee needed Next Level Innovations. 

Sarah Calvert, formerly the associate pastor of Galilee, runs the Next Level Innovations program at the district level out of her office at the Bi-District (Alexandria & Arlington) UMC headquarters in Falls Church.

“NLI is an investment in churches that have a significant potential for reaching more people in their community,” Sarah told an NLI meeting at Galilee in February. “These churches have healthy and coachable leadership (clergy and lay), who can get the job done in new ways to lead people to Jesus Christ.”

“NLI is based on programs with good track records in other UMC conferences. The program that we have instituted at Galilee has multiple components including a foundation of prayer, monthly clergy training, two to three laity training events, an intensive November weekend of church study, a detailed report and recommendation for innovations specially developed for the church, and follow up coaching for a year or more.”

Galilee was selected last year as one of a handful of Nova churches ready to reach the next level.

We are now six months into the NLI program. So far, the work of New Level Innovations has been visible mostly at the pastor level. Pastor Jason has monthly training with a mentor, Reverend Tom Berlin of Floris UMC in Herndon. Pastor Matt Sergent and ministry intern Geitra Mickelson are provided opportunities to join Jason on field trips and seminars on a variety of subjects. It was on a recent excursion, for example, that Pastor Jason met Mark Batterson, bestselling author of Draw the Circle, our Lenten prayer devotional.

But the “visible” signs of Next Level Innovations work are not the only signs! The congregation has been asked to join the work of NLI with prayer, the most effective “invisible” work of all. 

Additionally, “secret worshippers” have visited Galilee on Sundays to assess our church’s strengths and weaknesses. The secret worshippers are going to report to us what they perceive, giving us the precious gift of seeing ourselves through the eyes of strangers.

Sarah Calvert, Galilee’s former associate pastor, leads the NLI program at the district level.

Through out 2017, Galilee will are being assessed by folks outside our congregation and by a small team of dedicated NLI volunteers within the congregation. This will culminate in a retreat called “NLI Weekend,” November 10-12 (Veterans Day weekend), which will involve study, prayer, and reflection for the whole congregation.

Save the date, because this will be an important event that all Galilee members and attenders will be invited to join. It is on the Sunday of this weekend that a set of concrete recommendations will be presented to us, focusing on how we can take Galilee to the “next level.” We do not know what the recommendations will be, and we ask you to pray that they are good and meaningful.

That Sunday we will vote. If we approve the recommendations by a vote of 75%, our church will move forward on the NLI-recommended path with training and support from the district.

“It is my prayer that was we approach November, the work of NLI within our congregation will be blessed and that we will vote to move forward in faith. Our “good news” is a gospel of reaching out. In many ways, we accomplish that every week to win souls for Christ and help change lives. But what are we missing? What next steps can this church and chapel take to make sure we reach the “next level” as disciples of Jesus Christ?”

Right now, Galilee covets your prayers in regard to the assessments of our ministries and the training that is ongoing. If you have any questions about Next Level Innovations, please be sure to email Pastor Jason.