Catalyst Initiative FAQs

01.13.21 | Leader Development, New Faith Expressions, Young Peoples Ministry, Advocacy and Action, Congregational Development, Wellness and Missions, 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.

    Q: I’m not sure whether to apply to be a part of a Catalyst Cohort, New Places for New People and/or the Next Level Leadership Academy. How should I decide? 

    A: The Catalyst Initiative application was designed to help a church take its next right step -- whether that’s joining a Catalyst cohort, working on growing in specific ways in the area of leadership, engaging in New Places for New People and more. We highly recommend that all congregations that want clarity on their best next step, fill out the Catalyst Initiative application.

    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 5-7 leaders from four congregations. 

    Q: Why is the application so comprehensive and why does it take so long to complete?

    A: We wanted to be sure that the application itself was value added for congregations and toward the development of thriving congregations. As a result, the application includes everything needed in order to begin a strategic consultation with your congregation rooted in current reality. Additionally, doing this work ahead of the actual cohort enables:

    • Identification of a congregation’s next, faithful step. Some congregations may need to do a few things to get ready to fruitfully participate in a Catalyst Cohort. Others may have recently completed the type of work included in the Catalyst Cohort so may be offered other opportunities.
    • A tailored approach to developing cohorts based on their current realities.
    • An annual process of assessment and placement that ensures all congregations within the Baltimore-Washington Conference have appropriate support to thrive.
    Q: What materials or information do I need close at hand when filling out the application?

    A: The application is divided into sections that could be completed by different individuals in your congregation and does not need to be completed in one sitting. You will need:

    • ExecutiveInsite, ComparativeInsite and MinistryInsite from MissionInsite (will need to upload those digitally)
    • Readiness 360 scores
    • Information about your facility capacity
    • Statistical information for 2020 and a download of previous years statistics at UMdata.org 
    • Names of partners and groups who regularly use your facilities
    • If you have these, you will need them in digital form: Organizational chart, vision and mission statements, strategic plan, goals, orientation materials for new leaders and/or new members. Note: you will not be penalized if you do not have these items.
    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 to be a part of the 2021 cohort, 

    • The pastor plus 4-6 leaders would be participating in the learning process. 
    • The congregation would be engaged throughout the process to prepare them to make any needed shifts, starting with the Baltimore-Washington Conference’s Who Are We? study.
    Q: who will be selecting congregations for the catalyst initiative?

    A: The Catalyst Initiative Program Director, a representative from the Office of Congregational and Leadership Development and four DSs will comprise the interview team which is the final step in the selection process.

    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 a cohort 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. 

    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 three 1-day retreats, one congregational Bible study and 5 online, interactive learning sprints. These sprints happen over a two week period to allow people ample time to complete the assignments around their own schedule. The various experiences always include a practice that participants seek to implement within the congregation. We estimate approximately 6-8 hours a month of time from May 2021-2022 with the exception of July and August where the only activity is a weekly 1-hour Bible study.

    Q: With so much uncertainty in the denomination and country, I’m not sure whether or not it makes sense for my church to apply. 

    A: The ability to make a commitment for the duration of the program is real. So much so that the intent to apply form includes a question about being committed to a 10-month intensive process. Please take your concerns about your congregation’s ability to make this commitment  seriously, they may be a dealbreaker. 

    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 churches to participate.

    Q: What happens if my church is not chosen to participate this year? 

    A: You will be advised on your next faithful step which may be a series of recommended experiences to help you get ready for application next year. We will be starting new Catalyst Cohorts each year at least through 2025.