The VITAL Initiative has been formally introduced to the Church of God with the endorsement of Presiding Bishop Dr. Mark Williams in a video interview with its founder and director, Michael Nations. The Vital Initiative is a ministry to, and movement among, the pastors of smaller churches. It presents a new paradigm of ministry that places high priority on the importance of small churches in Kingdom work in the 21st century.
Nations is an ordained bishop in the Church of God and has served as a pastor since 1983, for the last 19 years in Clyde, North Carolina. According to Williams and Nations, the mission of 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.”
“The Church of God is a denomination of small churches, with the majority of pastors serving in small congregations,” Nations stated. “Eighty percent (80%) or 5,260 of our churches have less than 100 in worship on a given Sunday. But small churches are vital and necessary to the cause of Christ in the earth. The pastor is the key to the local church, yet pastors of small churches are regularly disconnected from the denomination. Many of these pastors do not see themselves as a significant part of the denomination.” Nations said these feelings have caused many small church pastors to withdraw from involvement in denominational efforts.
“No program or effort in the Church of God will be successful with this segment of pastors until they are affirmed and their ministries recognized as important and necessary to the work of God in the earth and to the denomination,” Nations said. “Small church pastors serve under unique circumstances. Their numbers and importance to the mission task demand resources and relationships that realize their perspective.”
Responding to this need and opportunity, VITAL Initiative is a ministry to pastors of smaller churches and a movement among these pastors that unapologetically targets these pastors in four areas.
“If the Church of God is going to impact the USA and Canada for Christ in the 21st century we cannot overlook the place and power of the small church,” Williams stated. “We need every church pastor to take his or her place in the task and lead their church on mission. VITAL Initiative calls on the pastors of smaller churches to see themselves as missionaries and lead the local church to see itself as a mission station or outpost of the Kingdom in their community. This call is also to denominational leaders at the state/regional level and international level to view all churches as an asset and a blessing. This force of 5,260 mission stations will be unleashed!”
Vital Initiative is an acrostic for five key components focused on the smaller church pastor”
VALUE every pastor as a servant of God
INTEGRATE every pastor into Kingdom work and denomination wide effort
TRAIN pastors for impactful ministry in small places
APPRECIATE every pastor for their place in the mission task
LAUNCH pastors by providing a correct focus and applicable resources and encouragement
According to Nations, it was after hundreds of hours of research resulting in over 1,500 pages of documentation, and many personal interviews with Church of God officials and leaders of other denominations, that each of these six assumptions was found to be true. It is from this research that The VITAL Initiative has been formed.
“A goal of VITAL Initiative is not only to connect pastors with other pastors of smaller churches, but with pastors of larger churches and state/regional administration and international administration,” Nations said. “An interactive website is being developed for release soon that will connect small church pastors across the country.”
“We want to reach every pastor of a small church in every state or region in the Church of God, all 5,260 of them, in the USA/Canada with the ministry of VITAL Initiative,” Williams stated. “Every community is different and every church is unique; that is why a programmatic, cookie-cutter approach to ministry is not the answer for the small church. It is important to find what God is doing in each church and community and allow God to breathe creative ministry into that context. VITAL Initiative will encourage this openness to the Holy Spirit by trumpeting foundational Pentecostal spirituality and by highlighting Holy Spirit inspired creative ministry to take place across the country.”
As part of the initiative, Nations said a network of small church pastors is being built called The VITAL Initiative Network. Over 200 pastors are already participating and others are invited to join by emailing email@example.com.
VITAL Initiative has been issued a project number through Church of God World Missions, allowing churches and individuals to give tax deductible gifts, as well as receiving World Missions credit. Gifts can be directed to Church of God World Missions, P.O. Box 8016, Cleveland, TN 37320-8016, project number 102-9304.
To view the interview between General Overseer Williams and Michael Nations, go to the Church of God website and click on the Vital Initiative graphic or click the following link: www.churchofgod.org/vitalinitiative – See more at: http://www.churchofgod.org