This Sticky Faith Story is from Matthew Deprez, Intergenerational Pastor at Frontline Community Church in Grand Rapids, MI, a Sticky Faith Cohort veteran, and one of our Coaches and Sticky Faith Trainers.
Our church had the privilege of participating in a Sticky Faith Cohort in 2011. When I think back on all the decisions Frontline has made over the past 3 years, the decision to join the cohort has been, without a doubt, one of the most important. Here are some ways the Cohort is still changing our church:
1. We formed a new network
One of the most unexpected parts of the cohort is the ongoing relationship Frontline has been able to build with other churches who have been part of cohorts. Three years later, some of my closest friends in ministry are leaders from other churches we met that year. I’ve been challenged by how to do ministry from churches with under 200 people, and churches as large as 10,000+ people. Some of our most effective changes have happened because of ongoing conversations since the cohort ended.
2. Programmatic shifts
Our ministry programs today look completely different from before the cohort. Earlier this year, we finished building a brand-new Children’s Ministry wing with Sticky Faith values in mind. Then this fall our student ministry willingly volunteered to give away their student ministry room so they could meet in our church’s main auditorium in order to feel more connected to the larger church. We do interdepartmental trainings with volunteers, and have shared a cohesive (and non-competitive) interdepartmental calendar. Our staff structure changed to more effectively work together and better resource people at Frontline.
3. We disciple the entire family, rather than just individual people
Previous to the cohort, our staff worked hard to disciple their own demographic individually. Today, we try our best to ask how the entire family can be discipled. This means our staff regularly has to put our heads together, and work as a team. We still have age-appropriate departments and ministries, but we’re working hard to disciple the family as a whole. We’ve done Sunday morning sermon series based on what we’ve learned from the cohort. We’ve created “Milestones” for families to celebrate and grow together. We’ve provided simple opportunities for families to have spiritual conversations together, and implemented family-based serving opportunities locally and abroad. Before the cohort, we internally believed that in-home discipleship was the most important thing we could provide for a child’s spiritual development, but we didn’t know how to do it. After the cohort, we actually put resources in place to make family discipleship a reality.
4.We measure effectiveness...more effectively
Before the cohort, we essentially measured the effectiveness of a program based on how many people showed up. While we still measure programmatic attendance, the cohort helped us process better ways to measure the effectiveness of what we do. Now, we evaluate our staff differently, recruit and retain volunteers more effectively, and resource and equip parents more passionately. In short, the way we measure success has created a different set of expectations for everybody at Frontline, and we’re much better off because of it.
5. The cohort brought us to sunny California!
I’d be lying if I said that getting to California in February and October wasn’t a draw for us. February’s weather in West Michigan isn’t terribly attractive, and since lake-effect snow doesn’t exist in Los Angeles, it was a fairly easy sell to get our staff to go. In all seriousness, the times on-site in California were critical for us. Meeting the other churches, interacting with the FYI staff, and getting away as a team were all crucial to the cohort being a “win” for Frontline.
I can’t think of anything else Frontline has done over the past 3 years that has changed our culture as much as the Sticky Faith Cohort, and my hope is that as many churches as possible gain the same experience!
For questions and to confirm your spot, email Brian Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (626) 584-5546
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