Cohort 2

NLI Cohort 2 Churches

  • Burke UMC, Alexandria District
  • Calvary UMC, Arlington District
  • Centreville UMC, Arlington District
  • Clarendon UMC, Arlington District
  • LeesburgUMC, Winchester District
  • New Song UMC, Richmond District
  • Sydenstricker UMC, Alexandria District
  • Warrenton UMC, Alexandria District


How NLI Will Work for Your Church

  1. You’ve received an invitation and come to the invitation banquet. Now what? Please discuss with your Church Council/Leadership Team and show them this information.
    •  You might wonder: What is different about NLI? It was formulated by local Northern Virginia pastors who have already grown large churches, and developed out of successful programs across the UMC that help churches move to the next level of innovation.
    • You might want more information about how we got to this program: Two church consultation models NLI was developed from were HCI (Healthy Church Initiative) from the Missouri Conference (Bob Farr’s book “10 Prescriptions for a Healthy Church” gives you a look at that model; here is a website about it: ) and West Ohio Conference’s  Missional Church Consultation Initiative:  We used these models to learn from, and adapt to Northern Virginia larger churches.
    •  The first group of churches is just about to enter into their Innovation Consultation Weekends – one in June, the rest in September/October/November of 2017. You are being asked to join the second cohort of NLI  churches.
    •  If you have further questions, feel free to contact the District staff working on this project: Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert ( or Rev. Melissa Dunlap (  with questions about how this might work for your church.
  2. After hearing more about it at the banquet, enter into a time of prayerful discernment with your church leadership – is this the right step and the right time for this church? We will need to know your prayerful decision by June 1, 2017, to, or call the District office and ask for Sarah Calvert.
  3. If the answer is ‘not now’, there might be a third class beginning in 2018; prayerfully consider if that might be the right time.
  4. If your church discerns yes, after a vote of your Church Council/Leadership Team, attend the Orientation event on June 7, 2017 at 7:30pm at Fairfax UMC with a team of 4-6 key leaders. This team will be working this entire multi-year process together, so choose carefully who is best to go on this journey, communicate back to and teach and lead change with your congregation. At the orientation, you will be notified who your church mentor will be for the entirety of the process.
  5.  The entire process will cost the District and Conference over $10,000 for each church. We have sought out grants, and used some of the rental income from the new District Offices so this investment will not change the District apportionments to any church. If your church decides to go forward, the direct investment from your church will be $500 in 2017 (payable at the Orientation meeting), $1500 in 2018, and $1000 in 2019, for a total of $3,000.  In addition, there are books, meals and other materials for the clergy peer group and laity groups that will need to be purchased by the church and/or pastors.
  6. From September 2017 – June 2018 the senior clergy of the church will be in a Peer Learning Group with 6-7 other senior clergy from similar churches in Northern Virginia. Associates and other clergy in your church are welcome to be part of your church NLI Team, but this group is specifically designed for the Senior Pastor. This group will be receiving training in areas like leading change, breakthrough prayer, visioning for change and aligning with staff and laity teams, stewardship of resources, and other topics of need for this size and location of church.
  7. There will be a three session peer learning group for associate clergy and executive directors of the churches, probably around January/February 2018.
  8. In the Winter/Spring of 2018 your church will have a presenter from the District staff come to the church to lead a Ministry Focus Event open to everyone in the church. The purpose of this is to emphasize alignment of the ministry of your church with the vision and mission of the church, and to help the church to begin to understand the NLI process and the upcoming weekend.
  9. Your church will be undergoing a full self-study of itself, led by your church’s NLI leadership team.
  10. At some point early in the clergy peer learning process, your church will select a weekend for the NLI Innovation Consultation in fall of 2018. On that Innovation Weekend a full team will come to your church, interview key leaders and staff, hold training events in evangelism and discipleship, and present a recommendation of several key Next Level Innovations that should take your church to the next level in making disciples for the transformation of the world. The weekend will conclude with an encouraging worship event to highlight the ongoing work of the church, and the possibilities yet to come.
  11. After the Innovation Consultation weekend, the church will enter into a season of discernment for 60 days as to whether they accept the innovations proposed, or choose not to move forward at this time. The innovations are purposely packaged together – all or nothing – to encourage taking on some harder innovations with some easier ones. Hopefully the work done to this point will result in a vote at a Church Conference of 75% or more of the congregation to go forward.  If the church is not amenable to going forward, the resources of the mentor and peer groups will end.
  12. The church’s mentor will be an integral part of the accomplishment of the innovations, with training, ideas, and working through the process of implementation. We feel this is a critical point of the program – your church is not left alone to figure out how to accomplish the innovations. Expect one to two years in processing and implementing these innovations.
  13. NLI is not a ‘one and done’ process, and we will encourage churches to continue to invest in further coaching around ongoing areas of need. There may be reunions around particular issues for the clergy peer group as well.
  14. We hope that by working on the next level of innovations for this church, it will in turn encourage other churches, and this church and its leadership will become a resource for later cohorts in the NOVA Districts as well as the Virginia Conference.