The mission of The VITAL Initiative is to help the Church of God realize and utilize the place and power of small churches in 21st century Kingdom work by revaluing pastors, reclaiming mission and revitalizing small churches.
Ethos is the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of our denomination. The VITAL Initiative places high priority on the importance of small churches as necessary for Kingdom work in the 21st century. Small churches are vital to the cause of Christ in the earth and must be seen that way. We have to see the small church as an asset to our movement instead of a liability. We cannot continue to view these churches as failed large churches and their pastors as failures.
The VITAL Initiative unapologetically targets pastors of smaller churches. We are a denomination of small churches. Eighty percent (80%) of our churches have less than 100 in Sunday worship: that is 5,260 churches in the USA and Canada alone!. The pastor is the key to the local church and many of these pastors, if not most, are disconnected, dislocated, and discouraged and must be reminded of the importance of their vital and necessary ministry on the margins.
As this initiative moves throughout the Church of God, interaction will occur that will create excitement and anticipation and will start to restore a movement mentality among pastors. This momentum will generate new ideas and opportunities that will address the issues that are at hand. In other words, this movement is not pre-programmed or predictable. The Holy Spirit will meet us on the margins.
The concept of coming together in small and large gatherings will be heavily utilized as effectively and efficiently as possible. Appreciation gatherings with pastor and spouse will help express to these servants of the Lord how valuable they are to the Church of God. Training gatherings will be times to impart the new ethos and to address issues that arise in small churches. The VITAL Initiative website will also be utilized for web gatherings that will connect pastors of small churches across the country. Every gathering will be an opportunity to listen to these pastors that feel forgotten and left out—this is a priority!
Value is the starting point of revitalization! Pastors in small places must know that they are valued. If we want them to reclaim mission and see small churches revitalized, it must start with them.
Stories from the margins will be solicited and will become the fuel for the movement among small church pastors. Currently, all that is employed to understand the small church is attendance figures and monetary reports. This practice provides part of the picture but not the whole. To ask these churches to share their stories will be very revealing and extremely inspiring and will lead to a new understanding of ministry on the margins. There is endless possibilities for this endeavor.