Catalyst Initiative FAQs

05.20.24 | Leader Development, Congregational Development, Discipleship Formation
    Q: What will participants learn in the Catalyst Initiative? 

    A: 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.


    The churches with a strong team who did all the work, have experienced a wide variety of results. Some have become known in the community as the place to go when someone is grieving, others have experienced new community partnerships and energy for trying new things, others report an increase in new members that come from the community around the church, and others have experienced a shift to team based ministry. All report using the tools and processes beyond the Catalyst Initiative to do ministry differently and learn how best to engage with their community. 

    Q: What is a cohort?

    A: Group of people who learn together, support and encourage one another and share ideas with one another. Each Catalyst Cohort will be approximately 25 people composed of 5 leaders (pastors plus four laity) from four congregations. 

    Q: Are there any special computer programs or technology needed to fill out the application or participate in the Catalyst Initiative? How “tech-savvy” do I need to be? 

    A: The application is an online form that requires no special skills. The application includes two additional online programs (Readiness 360 and MissionInsite) which don’t require special programs or technology but would benefit from having someone who is comfortable with technology as your congregation's point person. If you experience any difficulties, there are tutorials and people who can help with these.

    Q: How many people in a church should be involved in determining whether or not to apply to the Catalyst Initiative? When the program starts, how many people will be participating in the learning process? 

    A: We would recommend that the church council make the decision to apply. Should your congregation be selected: 

    • The pastor plus 4 laity would be participating in the year long learning process. 
    • The congregation would be invited to the kickoff meet to learn about the results of the Readiness 360, about what to expect in Catalyst, and to be invited to pray.
    • There are many times for leaders and/or the entire congregation to engage in applied learning -- including community walks, reflection and the experiment.
    Q: who will be selecting congregations for the catalyst initiative?

    A: Your application is reviewed by the Catalyst Lead Team (Bill Brown, Christie Latona and Kayla Spears) and then recommendations are reviewed with District Superintendents. The Lead Team then meets with applicants to explain the recommendation and for congregations to get their questions answered.

    Q: What criteria will be used to choose the churches to be a part of a Catalyst Cohort? 

    A: We will be using the information submitted in the application to determine if a church would benefit from participation in the Catalyst Initiative and is healthy enough to be able to participate meaningfully. We will be conducting interviews with those who appear ready to complete the discernment process. Those that aren't yet ready to engage in Catalyst have found starting with the Readiness Initiative helpful first to get ready for Catalyst.

    Q: How do you define a healthy church? How do we know if our congregation is healthy enough to be considered?

    A: Congregational health looks different in different contexts and it is more than participation metrics or finances. The application process is designed to be able to provide an experience and data that will let everyone know whether or not there is energy and willingness to benefit from participating in the Catalyst Initiative. 

    Q: About how much time a week/month will a church be asked to commit to the 10-month Catalyst Initiative?

    A: The initiative includes one onsite kickoff meeting at your church, three 1-day retreats and 5 online, interactive online module. These modules happen over a two week period to allow people ample time to complete the assignments around their own schedule. Each module always includes a practice that participants implement within the congregation. We estimate approximately 6-8 hours a month of time with the exception of December.

    Q: What is the cost to participate in the Catalyst Initiative?

    A: Thanks to our Thriving Congregations grant from Lilly Foundation, Inc., there is no financial cost for Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula-Delaware churches to participate.