As a preacher’s kid, JJ Shimko saw the good, the bad and the ugly of ministry and never wanted to be a pastor. Yet, he has been preaching for 18 years and is now part of the Free Methodist Recalibrate Initiative with Light and Life Chapel in Williamsport, Pa. This initiative is almost like re-planting existing churches and helps them enter a new season of fruitfulness.
“This initiative asks the question, ‘Why were you put there as a church in the first place?’” JJ said. “A lot of the emphasis is realizing what your purpose, mission, vision and values are. They were in that place when the church first started, but you can get off track over the years.”
The Free Methodist Church is more than 150 years old and reports that fifty-one percent of its churches are stagnant or in decline. However, 31 churches are currently participating in the Recalibrate Initiative to re-think, re-align and re-launch their church. The goal is to create a church that is not just for the people on the inside, but the people on the outside, too.
As part of the Recalibrate process, the pastor develops a renewed, specific vision for the church. Then the staff and lay-leaders come together to develop strategies to implement the vision, and later, re-launch the church through facility and program changes.
The churches aren’t the only ones who recalibrate. Renewed vision begins in the heart of the leaders. JJ came to Asbury Seminary’s D.Min. program to do just that, as he and his congregation began the recalibration process in January 2017.
“I need to be re-tooled,” JJ said. “This isn’t a matter of me just gaining a degree. You kinda get to a point that you don’t know quite as much as you thought you did. I need to get back to some basic stuff and learn new things, too.”