Coaching in the midst of
cultural change

Epicenter Group coaches leaders to discern ways forward for relevant, community-based Christianity, and to birth new the new things God is up to in the world.

Our experienced team can coach you through:

New Church Starts

Church planting is a rapidly changing enterprise in America and globally. We have coached some of the most fruitful plants in the western world in the last decade. One of the , became the fastest growing United Methodist congregation in America for several years. We have been around the block on house-church networks, multi site plants, vital mergers, and we still even work with a few parachute drops. Every member of our team has effectively planted at least one church, except for Craig Gilbert, our worship development coach (and he has resourced multiple planters in worship design). TO LEARN MORE, click here.

Taking Healthy Churches to the Next Level

Some of our best work is with highly effective churches, which in many cases have seen significant growth. We help such churches look beyond their current ministry paradigms in order to bust through growth plateaus and to the next level in their development. Typically one or two of us come onsite for 2-5 days over a period of 1-2 years, and then we stay in a coaching relationship with senior leaders and key ministry teams as the church lives into new dreams and plans. One might think that the most effective churches would have the least to gain from consultation and coaching. In fact, they will likely benefit the most in terms of the additional gains that we can help them discover and achieve. TO LEARN MORE, click here.

Church Mergers

Historically, most church mergers have been survival-focused rather than mission-focused. They were about downsizing and postponing church closing. We believe merger can be designed for growth and ministry advance. At Epicenter, we love coaching through the messy, hope-filled journey of two or more congregations joining together in order to reach new people. Our tests of a good merger include these: (1) the merged church functions as a new church in terms of internal practice and in terms of community perceptions, (2) the median age five years after merger is twenty years younger than it was before, (3) weekly worship attendance is higher five years after merger than it was before in all the predecessor churches combined, and (4) the facilities of the merged church are appropriately designed for the current-day ministry. TO LEARN MORE, click here.

Multi-site Churches

Paul Nixon, Trey Hall, Paul Moon, Rachel Gilmore and Craig Gilbert have all led multi-site churches as pastors or staff. Beth Estock has led a house church network. We have been pioneers in the multi-site movement in North America, stretching back into the late twentieth century. Paul will work with dozens of churches seeking to shift to a multi-site model in the next year through his work with Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church (the Churches Planting Churches program). Paul’s newest book, Multi, speaks to many of the multi-site ministry challenges that we address in our coaching. TO LEARN MORE, click here.

Leading Declining Churches toward Transformation

About 90 percent of North American congregations are facing a grim future if some things do not change in the next few years. Lynne Alley-Grant came to Epicenter from a successful turn-around pastorate of an old down-town church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Beth Estock is an expert in discernment and visioning. Craig Gilbert can help your church move toward high impact worship experiences, in any liturgical style! Paul Moon can help your church connect with the world effectively in a digital age. Gary Shockley knows stewardship and how to rally your donors for an effective capital campaign. Our team would love to work with your congregation in discovering a new future that will rally your leadership and change your trajectory. We do not just come in, give recommendations and leave. We design a process over 1-2 years in which we walk with you through the various challenges that appear on your church’s road toward God’s next things. TO LEARN MORE, click here.

Technology and Digital Ministry

Paul Moon is our Epicenter specialist in digital ministry. Technology and social media are not just for young adults and techies; it has become an essential part of daily life for all faith communities and for all ages. If a church is not able to work comfortably with social media and web-based platforms, its future will be bleak. Paul Moon can work directly with your church in a consultation/coaching process focused on web ministry essentials, ministry innovation and digital ministry. Or two Paul’s (Paul Nixon and Paul Moon) can team up to provide a broader consultation/coaching. Our two Pauls provide nation-wide summits called “Mobilize Your Church for a Better Ministry Story,” focusing on digital ministry strategy and ministry in a changing culture. TO LEARN MORE, click here.

Worship

Craig Gilbert is our Epicenter specialist in worship design and renewal. Most American worship services fall short of the excellence required to engage 21st century people. Craig can work directly with your church in a consultation/coaching process focused solely on renewing worship, creating a new service for new people, searching for new music leadership, or working with your architect in worship space design. Craig can also team with other Epicenter leaders as a part of a broader consultation. Craig Gilbert and Paul Nixon recently worked with a leading American church architect in worship space re-design for a multi-site congregation. TO LEARN MORE, click here.

Stewardship

Most North American churches will lose half their donor base in the next decade. Gulp. Not most of their people, but half their current income! Major rethink is in order for how we fund ministry. Gary Shockley and others on our team are ready to help your leaders tackle the tough questions of financial sustainability in the twenty-first century. We know the latest best practices in mobilizing giving with younger and newer church populations. We can also coach you in major fund development for the advance of ministry and/or renewal of facilities. TO LEARN MORE, click here.

For the areas of focus above we offer a variety of coaching options:

1:1 Leader Coaching
A pastor, church planter or judicatory leader assuming a new and challenging task is wise to secure a competent coach, one who can stand back from the task and help the leader focus on the most important moves, and to sharpen the most critical skills.
Learn more
Leader Team Coaching
A regional division of a denomination (conference, presbytery, district, synod, convention, diocese, etc) can contract with Epicenter Group to help them develop and execute a comprehensive plan focusing on congregational transformation, leader development and/or new church development.
Learn more
Cohort of Peers
The Epicenter Group has offered clergy learning communities to scores of clergy across the United States. Our facilitator/coaches excel in various ministry disciplines, from which they lead peer-based learning focused on ministry growth goals.
Learn more
Church-wide Coaching
For years members of the Epicenter team have been working onsite with congregations to help them work through all sorts of critical issues in order that they might thrive in their ministry.
Learn more
Judicatory
A regional division of a denomination (conference, presbytery, district, synod, convention, diocese, etc) can contract with Epicenter Group to help them develop and execute a comprehensive plan focusing on congregational transformation, leader development and/or new church development.
Learn More

1:1 Leader Coaching

Sharpen your most critical skills.

A pastor, church planter or judicatory leader assuming a new and challenging task is wise to secure a competent coach, one who can stand back from the task and help the leader focus on the most important moves, and to sharpen the most critical skills.

Most of our coaching these days falls into EIGHT categories, across a broad range of challenges:

(1) Those who are planting new faith communities – We have coached some of the most fruitful recent plants in American Christianity.
(2) Those who are seeking to lead major transformation of stagnant or declining congregations. Some of this work happens in clusters of leaders from several churches (see Learning Communities). Other times, we simply work directly with one pastoral leader, or with that pastor and her team.
(3) Those who are seeking to lead a healthy church to a new level of excellence – these may be leaders of middle and large sized congregations. Often they invite an Epicenter leader in for an onsite consultation and then work for 1 – 2 years with us to bring their dreams to life.
(4) Those who are seeking to lead two or more churches through the journey of merger.
(5) Those who are seeking to plant or adopt new ministry campuses and thereby shift to a multi-site ministry model – along with those who are seeking to make their multi-site church function smoothly.
(6) Those who desire to significantly advance the quality of their worship services.
(7) Those who desire to lead their church in raising funds to advance their ministry to the next level. This may relate to facility development or significant ministry expansion in their community.
(8) Those who work as judicatory or network executives, seeking to lead and resource a region of churches, with a focus on new and renewing congregations.

Leader Team Coaching

Redesign your ministry
Similar to 1:1 coaching, team coaching works with staff teams or with teams of staff and laity, as the group thinks and acts together in the redesign of ministry. Often this kind of work is combined with a church-wide consultation. The goal is to equip the team to lead in tandem, aligned in their vision and values. Sometimes a contract starts out focused on the senior leader, but across the months, that leader decides to bring others into the conversation. Typically, there is no cost difference to make this kind of adjustment mid-year. Teamwork is a key component of healthy twenty-first century churches.

Cohort of Peers

Peer based learning built on ministry growth goals.

The Epicenter Group has offered clergy learning communities to scores of clergy across the United States. Our facilitator/coaches excel in various ministry disciplines, from which they lead peer-based learning focused on ministry growth goals. The process lasts one year – and can be extended into a second year where the group discerns value in doing so. We customize a reading list of around six books for each group, in dialogue with the group itself. We begin with a retreat, followed by 10 gatherings across the year. Each gathering focuses on our reading, on particular ministry questions in each participant’s setting, as well as prayer and fellowship. Some groups gather face-to-face each month. Other groups mix face gatherings with on-line gathering, especially where wide geographic spread is a factor. An Epicenter Group coach serves as guide and facilitator for each group.

Our cohorts help pastors discern strategic next steps toward realizing God’s vision in the places where they serve. We can cluster churches and leaders by shared mission field (such as PCUSA pastors in small town upstate NY), by church size, by suburban or rural themes, by church paradigm, or by the area of focus (such as preaching, small group development or launch of a new worship service). We can work with a regional church leader to organize cohorts for a set of pastors or we can work with any pastor who wishes to gather several clergy colleagues for a shared year of learning and ministry growth. We encourage a lay component and partnership in the design of each cluster experience, but we will negotiate this according to the particular goals of each learning community.

Church-wide Coaching

Thrive in your ministry
For years members of the Epicenter team have been working onsite with congregations to help them work through all sorts of critical issues in order that they might thrive in their ministry. Cumulatively, we have worked in more than 1500 churches on-site. A local church consultation process consists of preliminary data gathering, a consultant coming onsite for 2-5 days, development of an appropriate ministry plan (with follow up coaching available). Click here for sample schedules of a local church on-site consultation.

Judicatory

Develop a comprehensive plan
A regional division of a denomination (conference, presbytery, district, synod, convention, diocese, etc) can contract with Epicenter Group to help them develop and execute a comprehensive plan focusing on congregational transformation, leader development and/or new church development. This can be a better use of church resources than to hire local staff, who may lack the expertise to facilitate systemic change. Such contracts may last two years, with opportunity for renewal at the same pricing. The contract is customized to your setting, based on what you wish to accomplish. Four of our team members have worked as leaders in judicatory capacities. We will work to design a plan that gives you maximum bang for your investment. See also the page (below) on Learning Communities, which may be a good strategy for the judicatory leader who wants to invest in developing the skills (and ministry fruit) of her/his best and brightest pastoral leaders. This in turn can begin to transform the climate in the judicatory community, when several churches begin simultaneously to thrive in new ways.

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