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.
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”.
As our cities, towns and neighborhoods change, we believe that strengthening the vitality of our existing churches is essential for reaching new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Large or small, our churches are important centers for mission and ministry. By following the core principles of healthy discipleship and using proven methods of outreach, all of our congregations can make an even bigger impact in their communities as vital churches.
The Office of Congregational Development and Redevelopment focuses its efforts on accomplishing the goals of Harvest 2.0. The unfolding work of Harvest 2.0 has created momentum for our conference as we sharpen our focus and rekindle our call to be witnesses for Christ in the communities where we live. Join our vision to plant 100 new faith communities, to nurture vital congregations through healthy discipleship practices, and to cultivate active community listening and outreach in all of our local churches.
Following a presentation by the Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century Design Team, the members of the Northern Illinois Conference voted to adopt the SBC21 Comprehensive Plan at the 2012 Annual Conference. According to Chicago Southern District Superintendent, the Rev. Dr. Tracy Smith-Malone, “the Design Team (consisting of twelve clergy and four laity) was formed, in June of 2011 and given the task of developing a strategic and comprehensive plan for strengthening existing Black churches and planting new Black churches in the conference.” Click here for more.
The vision of the National Plan is that Hispanic and Latino people will experience new and abundant life as they experience God through Jesus Christ and that The United Methodist Church, by the very sharing of this message through word and deed, will be energized in new and exciting ways (the winds of Pentecost at work).
“Who is my neighbor?” is the Annual Conference theme for the quadrennium. Following the unveiling of Harvest 2.0, Bishop Dyck challenged the Northern Illinois Conference to have 100 churches participating in Spanish as a second language courses offered by the conference. Click here for more.
As part of our Harvest 2.0 vision, the Northern Illinois Conference is committed to pursing meaningful Acts of Repentance toward indigenous people as suggested by the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concern. Click here for more.