New Beginnings has four programmatic stages:
The On-Site Assessment is the first step of the New Beginnings process. After enrolling in the process, a trained congregational assessor will be assigned to your congregation. The assessment visit will include a building tour, a look around the community, a financial review, and a congregational feedback session. The assessor’s goal during this visit is to learn about various aspects of the congregation’s life: its history, its passions and culture, and its resources, to name a few. The assessor will act as a professional visitor, allowing your congregation some insight into a first-time visitors’ experience at their church. While the assessment visit is brief (7 hours at most; usually between 2pm-9pm on an agreed upon date), the assessors are trained to gather many different types of information in that period. The assessor will take their experiences of the congregation and, supplementing in demographic and other types of data, will produce a 40-60 page congregational report that will provide a foundation for the church to begin the revisioning process. This report will not contain recommendations from the assessor; instead, it will serve as a comprehensive snapshot of the congregation’s present life, as well as a catalyst for conversation during the house meetings, described below.
The Leadership Training is a time to begin delving into the various dynamics that affect the ministry revisioning process. This training will prepare your congregational leaders to lead the house meeting groups while also introducing them to cultural, generational, and theoretical shifts that will guide your congregation to a New Beginning. Congregational leaders are typically led through two sessions in two days. The first session discusses changing aspects of the present world that are important to consider as church’s approach the transformation process. The second session focuses on the various types of data found within the congregation’s report, orienting leaders in facilitating the interpretation of the data when they lead a house group.
A curriculum of House Meetings is given to each congregation to guide them through interpreting the report and facilitating discussion of the future. It is recommended that at least 50% of the congregation be involved in the house meeting discussion groups, with about 5-8 people per group. House meeting leaders, trained at the follow-up training, can begin to lead these groups through a six-session discussion of various congregational attributes that will lead to discussion and forming of a group’s decision for the church. While the house meeting format is prescribed in the curriculum, there are various ways that the sessions can be individualized in format for various church lifestyles, including a retreat format for congregations who may be under a time restraint or otherwise would need to move more quickly through the process. It is recommended that congregations take 4-10 weeks to move through the six sessions to allow time for prayer and discernment.
After the completion of the house meetings, the church will begin the Decision-Making portion of the program. Each house meeting group’s decision will be brought to the church’s board or session for review. This portion of the New Beginnings process is the least-prescribed portion of the entire process, as decision-making in every church is a unique situation. For congregations whose house meeting groups have all suggested a similar decision, churches can simply vote to approve and begin the difficult work of living into their decision. In the case that house meeting groups suggest differing decisions, churches should work to merge them into a single, unified decision about the church’s future.