A Consultant’s Journey
In 2010, the Presbytery of Los Ranchos invited Alfredo Delgado to walk along Nueva Vida Presbyterian Church through a tricky, yet transformational, transition. Seeing the new day dawn for that congregation, Delgado was invited to walk with other multicultural congregations going through transition. After two more years of accompaniment, Delgado has served the presbytery as a Consultant for New Worshipping Communities and Church Transformation for the past six years.
Whether he is working with a NWC or with CT, the main job with which he is tasked is to accompany leaders in faithful pursuit of ministry to, for, and on behalf of their community. Delgado says that the part of the job he loves the most is, “interacting with people and empowering lay leaders and pastors to do ministry with confidence.”
With New Worshipping Communities (NWC), Delgado’s role is twofold;
- To identify potential leaders, and
- To equip and connect those leaders to resources.
Many of those resources include grants, both national and local, but it also includes people. “People are where the ministry really connects.”
Congregational Transformation is the most difficult part of the job. Sometimes a pastor isn’t ready to let go of a congregation. Sometimes a congregation doesn’t want to let go of their traditions. Either way, CHANGE IS HARD. Many congregations want the change to happen, but they want to avoid the pain that accompanies creating transformational change.
Sometimes, a congregation believes that, in his role as consultant, Delgado should have a plan for them – almost like a band aid. He says that’s not his role. He listens. He asks questions. He asks the hard questions. It is emotional work “having to tell pastors, leaders, or congregations that they need to rethink the way they are doing ministry. Worse yet, to tell them their ministry will not survive.”
What To Do?
There is hope. Churches that are serious about transformation need to address the following:
- Embrace Reality
Any change starts by embracing reality. What Delgado means is that congregations need to come to terms with the fact that their current congregation is not what it used to be. And most likely will never go back to what it was. Embracing reality is achieved by practicing active gratitude and proactive surrender. Thank God for what has been achieved, and intentionally surrender the desire to keep alive what it is not working any longer.
- Dream NEW Dreams
Churches need to learn how to dream new dreams for their members and the community. They must permit themselves to reach people in totally new ways. Every five years, churches should have a future story into which they want to live. They need to invest their energy and resources into living that dream intentionally.
- Narrow the Ministry Scope
Churches need to focus on two to three projects or outreaches they do well. Through these missions, develop the necessary connections to create the opportunity to reach/meet/make new disciples for Christ.
Where is Your Congregation Today?
Your church may not be in dire straits today, but it is never too early to hold up a mirror and take stock. Does your church have a five year vision plan? Are you providing training and development opportunities for lay leaders? Do you connect with the community outside your church doors?
Delgado says that the characteristics that he sees in thriving congregations are:
- Less drama, more prayer, and healthy conversations
- Great emphasis in discipleship
- Intentional development of lay leaders
- Pastors leading with confidence
- Meaningful connections with the community
- Creative and liberating worship
- Driven by a sense of abundance, not scarcity
“I want our communities of faith to remember that they are not alone in the ministries they are leading. I want our congregations to remember that our presbytery is committed to supporting them whether they are engaged in fresh expressions of the church or a transformational process.”