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July 10, 2023 Impact story

Transforming Ministry: DVI Program at The Gathering of Leaders (Chicago 2023)

The most recent Gathering of Leaders in Chicago featured a panel representing ECF’s Diocesan Vitality Initiative (DVI) program. This program partners with dioceses in identifying adaptive challenges and creating processes for renewal, redevelopment, and revitalization. The program’s framework uses the 3D approach (Define, Disrupt, and Develop) to drive transformative action and team building for the participant dioceses. DVI's transformative power lies in breaking through barriers and embracing change.

The process starts with each diocese defining their goals and vision. Next, with their DVI coach and ECF team’s support and guidance, they develop the necessary systems and infrastructure to support change. The most challenging part of this transformative process is disruption, creating discomfort in the system, and then channeling that energy to facilitate transformation. To accomplish that, each diocesan team works closely with their coach, ensuring everyone thinks ahead and finds innovative solutions.

In the presentation, ECF President Donald Romanik emphasized the importance of carefully selecting dioceses for the transformational journey. The program aims to convert dioceses from regulatory bureaucracies to ministry partners. While Donald6 acknowledged the challenges of change, he also highlighted the resilience it can build within congregations and dioceses. He stressed the ongoing support and coaching provided to ensure successful implementation and long-term impact on these transformative efforts.

Alisa Kelly, a staff member of the Diocese of West Tennessee and a DVI team member, emphasized the challenges faced in a diocese with limited structures and systems. A vital aspect of this process has been identifying how to better serve their congregations. This led them to take significant steps, such as becoming a small church consultant, as they recognized that primarily small churches are facing aging-out issues and need their assistance. On the other hand, larger churches tend to be more self-sustaining.

Mark Waight from the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri shared how vision can overcome barriers even in conservative environments. DVI has played a crucial role in establishing needed structure and providing support resources in the process of identifying ways to support their parishes and congregations to thrive and become more financially independent. Through the support of DVI they have developed the Requiem and Renaissance program to help parishes face their realities and make compassionate decisions for their future.

The program has garnered both excitement and inquiries from other dioceses, signaling a growing interest in transformational change.

Despite potential resistance, the DVI Program and the 3D approach is designed to work with both dioceses and faith communities. The coaching component plays a crucial role in guiding teams and ensuring the success of the transformative journey.

Ultimately, this program not only fosters growth and resilience but also empowers ministries and organizations to adapt to an ever-changing world. Whether it's a small church or a large diocese, DVI offers the tools needed for a thriving future.

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