How can a church participate?

The West Michigan Conference is using VCI as its primary means to help churches become even more effective in carrying out their mission. At the present time, participation is by invitation only. Churches interested should contact their District Superintendent.

Where did it come from?

The Healthy Church Initiative (West MI has named it Vital Church Initiative) was developed by the Missouri Annual Conference, which has been actively using it since 2006. Hundreds of their churches have participated in it. Its design comes from the work of Paul Borden, who helped turn around the American Baptist Church in northern California. Over the past few years many conferences are adopting this initiative and making it their own. In 2010, West Michigan partnered with the Detroit Conference to bring it to the Michigan area.

How successful has it been?

In Missouri, 80% of the churches that have been in the process at least 18 months have experienced an increase in their weekly average worship attendance. Half of the churches have grown by 5% or more. The Conference also reports that it has helped its churches’ leaders have a better understanding of important concepts related to effective ministry. It has also provided churches with hope, encouragement, and direction. We are already beginning to see fruit in the West Michigan Conference.

Is it focused on the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations?

The concepts in the books that Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Missouri Conference, has written – Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations and Five Practices of Fruitful Living – are certainly complementary to the concepts in the Vital Church Initiative process. VCI, however, is not based on either of these books.

More questions?


  • Dirk Elliott,
  • Caron Mosey,


  • Gary Step,
  • Naomi García,
  • Laura Witkowski,