Is your church looking for space and resources to plan for where God may be calling your community into the future? Would you benefit from collaboration with experts in areas like church vitality and community engagement? Consider applying for Resilient Church, a cohort program that gathers churches to explore together what it means to be resilient in the midst of our changing culture.
The Resilient Church initiative is designed to help churches identify and cultivate the traits of resilience in their own unique contexts. To do this, we lead churches through a three-phase process, aided by the expertise of Whitworth faculty and local ministry leaders:
- Discover the Past: Paying particular attention to the identity/stories that have formed each community and congregation
- Discern the Present: Researching each church’s current location through neighborhood mapping and other contextual resources
- Design for the Future: Designing collaborative initiatives based on learnings from the Discovery and Discernment phases to foster church resilience
This process takes place over the course of two years and in the company of a cohort of other churches (typically 6-8). Our goal is always to assemble a diverse cohort that represents a range of theologies and worship expressions, and our hope is that churches are able to engage in a collaborative environment and learn from one another.
Our next cohort will run from spring 2024-26 and is open to all U.S. churches. Most activities will take place virtually with in-person retreats in spring 2024, winter 2025, and fall 2026 near Spokane at a retreat center. Our spring 2024 kick-off retreat is tentatively scheduled for May 6-9, 2024.
Current Resilient Church participants can access the cohort hub here >>>
Interest Form Cohort Timeline Consultant Bios
How Your Church Benefits
If accepted into the cohort, your church will have the opportunity to develop a deep root system in the historic Christian faith, gain a deeper understanding of your cultural and geographic context, and gain skills to adapt resourcefully and creatively to new circumstances, challenges and opportunities in ways that serve the gospel.
As part of this process, your church will receive:
- Seed money ($5,000-10,000) to help kick start new initiatives that deepen each church’s call and embodiment of resilience.
- Collaboration and fellowship with other pastors and church leaders who can offer new insight.
- Personalized reports and recommendations from experts in fields like church history, church vitality, city planning, and entrepreneurship. Reports will include:
- An individualized report focused on research completed by a student researcher and with insight from a leading expert in congregational vitality
- Multiple demographic maps created using professional city planning resources
- A personalized report outlining key details of denominational history and rich resources from church history specific to your congregation’s needs
- A design plan facilitated by an entrepreneurship consultant to guide new initiatives
- The presence of a Whitworth student ministry fellow (June-August 2024) to increase the capacity of your ministry and provide individualized research and insights into your congregation.
What We Need from You
Churches interested in joining a cohort must apply. If accepted, cohort churches must commit to the following:
- A two-year commitment (May 2025-May 2026)
- A financial commitment of $3,000 to cover program participation costs. Scholarships will be available for churches who cannot meet the financial commitment. OCE will fully fund lodging and food for in-person retreats and will subsidize a percentage of travel costs in the form of reimbursement.
- The participation of 2-3 church leaders in all cohort activities (one cohort member must be a paid pastoral staff member; 1-2 members can include lay leaders or volunteers).
- Supervision of and collaboration with a student ministry fellow/researcher. One cohort member should act as a site supervisor for your student researcher.
Fill out the interest form below if you'd like to be involved with the next cohort. All U.S. churches are invited to apply.
"Our biggest take away was a realization that we as a congregation are more than our building. This made me ask, 'how can we use our building to tell the story not just of the building, but the people that make up the church inside of it?"
"One of the Resilient Church consultants helped us realize that as a new church, we needed to reclaim our rich heritage. And as a new church plant, we needed to actively work from the beginning against an insider/outsider culture."
"When I read our church's Discover report (the compilation of research from our student fellow), I realized the story I had been telling myself about who attended my church and what they thought of the church's identity was wrong."
"We are so grateful for the chance to zoom out and think about the future of the church with other faithful leaders we wouldn't be in community with otherwise."
"I so appreciate the energy and openness of sharing among churches, as well as the Resilient staff team’s depth and breadth of knowledge."