What is Project Pathway?

You may have heard this word “Pathway” mentioned around the church, and may have wondered what it’s about. In  Pastor Kelly’s first year at this church, she gained the sense that folks were eager to move forward. But – how to do that? She also learned that some past brainstorming or planning efforts at the church had not produced concrete results (which is very common in churches). But why? As she was pondering these issues, our then-District Superintendent introduced her to the book Pathway to Renewal – which got this ball rolling. Her sense was that the church needed to develop a deeply and broadly shared sense of purpose rather than simply brainstorming goals or objectives.

Not knowing exactly how to go about this, Pastor Kelly began with a small seed team. She issued invitations to several folks in December of 2012; of about ten folks invited, 5 said “yes.” The first work of this seed team was to study the nature and purpose of church through a handful of theological and biblical texts. They also examined what particular perspective Davis UMC might bring to these questions of the nature and purpose of church. From this work, the team has produced a study resource (currently in its near-final form) which can be used for others to deeply explore the nature and purpose of church. This study resource will be used in the next stage of this “Pathway” work, and will also be made available to anyone who is interested.

The next work of this team was to consider how we could develop a church-wide process to both deepen our shared sense of purpose, elicit broad input about the ministries of this church, and develop plans that stem from that input. The team has identified “Appreciative Inquiry” as a very promising model for such information-gathering and planning, particularly as applied to churches as described in the book Memories, Hopes, and Conversations by Mark Lau Branson.

In March, a group of about 20 church members was created to do the church-wide information-gathering process. This team began it’s work by a 5-week period spent studying the nature and purpose of church drawing upon excerpts from various theological books identified as meaningful by the original seed team. After the study period, this team paired off to interview congregants using the appreciative inquiry method and a list of questions from Pathway to Renewal. These interviews have now been compiled into one document so that the congregation as a whole can look at and use for discussion with the help of pathway mediator Nina Lau Branson on September 20th.

Want to know more? Feel free to ask those who have been serving on the beginning “seed” team: Louanne Horsfield, John Knight, Jim Tischer, Megan Houpt, and Tina Denena – or ask Pastor Kelly.