Catalyst Information for Congregations


    The Catalyst Initiative provides a 12-month congregational cohort process of discovery, exploration, and renewal. It empowers a church to: initiate a Spirit-led vision and understanding of its community; ignite faith into action; and invigorate people to claim God’s call to empower and enliven their community. The BWC's Catalyst Initiative will enable churches to claim a holy imagination; discover ways of expressing their faith that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives; shape new discipleship systems; and develop unique metrics for measuring faithfulness. The combination of digital (online) learning sprints, three retreats, and congregational engagement will enable cohorts of churches to create contextual paths for growth in ministry and discipleship.

    Participants will learn to more deeply and intentionally cultivate discipleship, to discern and experiment, to build better relationships with one another and those in the community, to evaluate and design ministry for the most meaningful impact, to identify and leverage assets and to create alignment and systems that sustain ministry into the future. As a result, congregations will increase their skills, confidence, and resilience so that more transformed lives transform lives.

    Catalyst Cohort Curriculum Highlights

    May Retreat: Orienting & Meeting Cohort

    Relationship is key as participants meet their cohort and coach, learn to navigate Assembly (our learning platform), understand the scope of the Catalyst Initiative.

    June Series of Learning Sprints: Seeing Your Context

    This sprint creates a theological, conceptual framework for data gathering and relational 1:1s so that congregations are better able to exegete themselves and their communities.

    July-August Data Gathering: Listening 

    During the summer, catalysts take the time to thoughtfully engage the congregation in several input sessions to illuminate skills, gifts, and core values and to run MissionInsite reports for better seeing their context. 

    September Synergist Time: Sharing Discoveries

    Each Catalyst Team meets with their Synergist to do a review of the data collected and to deepen the discernment process.

    October Learning Sprint: Developing Empathy & Designing Hope

    Using empathy and imagination, congregations will map their neighborhood, designing the potential for future relationship and ministry, and begin to connect points of pain, challenge, potential, mission, and vision.

    November Learning Sprint: Centering in our Identity as Disciples

    Delve into discipleship – both corporate and personal – as you continue to seek new ways to bring the Gospel to life in your context.

    January Retreat: Discerning Your Congregation's Call

    Enter a process of analyzing and discernment as you examine your leaders' passions, congregation’s strengths, and community’s needs. Begin to act with playful purpose as you embark on “Mission Possible”. 

    February Catalyst Team Time: Daring to Dream

    This month you will set aside half a day with your team to take all that you've learned and discerned to imagine new ways of doing and being church and begin to find innovative ways to move beyond the drawing board and make God’s vision a reality in your community. 

    March Learning Sprint: Increasing Your Impact

    Using the Thriving Congregations framework, create measures that matter most to keep your church focused on its call and mission well beyond the Catalyst Initiative. Discover the power in “building, measuring and learning,” and being a non-anxious leader.

    April Synergist Time: Making Commitments and Changes

    Each congregation spends time with their synergist to focus on the areas of most import as they begin to transition from the Catalyst Initiative to sustainable rhythms of grace and progress. 

    May Retreat: Launching Catalytic Creators

    At a launching retreat, you’ll celebrate the ways you have put faith, new measurements and ideas into practice as you begin an iterative process, gain new understandings of change management, and see your ministry, with God’s help, begin to shape lives in remarkable ways.

    Resourcing for emergent projects will include microgrants and support to apply for BWC's Mission Innovation and Unified Funding grants, and other sources.

    What Each Participating Congregation Needs for the Journey

    • A Team. A clergy person and 4 non-staff leaders willing to engage in the process of learning and practicing over the 12-month period and beyond.
    • An Open Mind. Awareness that existing models of ministry need revisioning and strengthening and open to exploring new models of ministry.
    • Health. Sufficient financial stability and congregational trust to engage wholeheartedly in the process.
    • Eagerness To Learn. Ability to ask deep questions about their leadership and their congregation, and openness to change.
    • Stability. Leadership can make a three-year commitment.
    • Ability to Participate. Can carve out the time to participate fully.
    The Baltimore-Washington Conference has received a grant of $1,000,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Catalyst Initiative. This program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.