Revitalizing existing churches and starting new faith communities go hand-in-hand.

The most effective strategy for cultivating vital Christians in vital churches who are changing communities includes BOTH strengthening the vitality of our current congregations AND starting new faith communities in appropriate areas and contexts. In fact, recent research shows that churches which help to start new faith communities actually benefit from the experience. Churches which actively and intentionally support the planting of new faith communities normally experience an increase in Sunday worship attendance and Sunday School participation.

This is our current cultural reality in Northern Illinois:

  • On any given Sunday, less than 20% of the population in Northern Illinois is in a church service, according to the groundbreaking The American Church in Crisis (2009).
  • Mainline churches, included the United Methodist Church, are declining in their attendance percentage every year.
  • One out of six Americans indicate “non-affiliated” or “none” for their religious affiliation.
  • One out of every three young adults ages 18-29 indicate “non-affiliated” or “none” for their religious affiliation.

We do not have to choose between planting and revitalizing. We can do both. If we are to reach more people, more young people, and more diverse people, then we must plant new faith communities. In the Northern Illinois Conference, we believe in planting and revitalizing, and we are working and praying to be a Conference that does both with excellence.

For more information, visit:  
Are you called to plant a new faith community or a new ministry? Planting a new church requires careful planning, resourcing, and leadership. The Northern Illinois Conference has numerous resources and programs to help assess, equip, and resource our planters. Assessment is how we identify high-potential planters and locations for new faith communities.
Whether you are an individual or an existing church, please follow these steps of assessment for discerning your readiness to plant:  
New Faith Community Planting ProcessBefore you can launch a new faith community, you must complete the assessment process. The assessment process must be completed before you are ever assigned or appointed to a position. Click "Am I Ready to Plant?" for more information on assessment.      
  After being assigned or appointed, follow these steps as you prepare to launch the new faith community:
  • Read some of our RECOMMENDED BOOKS
  • Stay connected to PATH1
  • Ask your District Superintendent to call a CONSTITUTING CHURCH CONFERENCE
  • Celebrate the chartering of your new church!
  • You can DONATE TODAY. Most new faith communities do NOT receive funding from the Conference budget. Instead, funding comes from the Harvest 2.0 campaign, from partner churches, and from national grants. Help supporting planting in our Conference by making a pledge to the Harvest 2.0 campaign!


Matthew Johnson

Twitter Prayer Practice

The following post is from Rev. Matthew Johnson, a Northern Illinois Conference pastor who is planting new kind of church community. Find out more by going to I’ve long been fascinated by Twitter. I first encountered it at a conference in Memphis about five years ago were tweets from people in the room and around…

Edison Park UMC Takes a Risk and God Shows Up

Edison Park United Methodist Church is one of our beautiful congregations on the far northwest side of Chicago. The community has changed, however, and the congregation had to decide what to do – close themselves off from their neighbors or reach out with love. They decided to take a risk and reach their neighbors! Because…


A bond between two churches helps in a time of tragedy

By Anne Marie Gerhardt When Lou and Sherry Schairer started teaching English as a second language to Hispanic families at Barrington United Methodist Church in the mid-90s, they had no idea they would be forming life-long bonds. The older couple didn’t know Spanish but took these families under their wings, in particular becoming mentors to…


Flowing Grace Charters as a New Church

By Anne Marie Gerhardt The congregation at Flowing Grace had many reasons to give high fives on Sunday, June 1, 2014. Flowing Grace officially became a United Methodist Church in the Northern Illinois Conference following a charter service led by Aurora District Superintendent Rev. Dick Wisdom. Flowing Grace’s Pastor Jeffry Bross, wearing his new “I…

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