The Church Legacy Initiative (CLI) is a ministry of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, supported by a grant from The Duke Endowment. The purpose of CLI is to assist in assessing the vitality of churches and leading them through next steps so that they may provide a legacy which will help to make disciples in this and future generations.
The need for CLI is critical. The Western North Carolina Conference reports more than 500 churches which average 50 congregants or less in worship each week. Many of these congregations have been in decline over a period of years and have reached a critical time in the life of their church. Congregations faced with declining membership and diminishing resources have significant challenges in fulfilling their call to develop faithful followers of Jesus within the church, as well as making new disciples and providing meaningful ministry to those outside the walls of the church. These churches struggle to sustain even the most essential work of the church, and often are focused more on survival than making disciples.
The ministry of the Church Legacy Initiative is to work with the pastor and congregants of struggling churches and provide support as they discern and follow a faithful path. These are important conversations and commitments for churches, but they can know they will be supported by CLI personnel offering wise and compassionate counsel.
CLI works collaboratively with District Superintendents to determine which churches should participate in the CLI process and to discern next steps. CLI plays an important role in the Church Vitality process for the Western North Carolina Conference as churches purposefully discern the faithful path God is calling them to follow, either for intentional revitalization of their own church or to provide a legacy which will assist with the revitalization of other churches and the creation of new faith communities. Through loving faithfulness in this new ministry, the Church Legacy Initiative will provide the WNCC with greater opportunities to fulfill our mission of following Jesus and making disciples who will transform our communities and the world.