At the 2001 General Assembly, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) adopted the 2020 Vision, which contained four priorities that guided the Church through the first two decades of the 21st century and continue to be priorities beyond 2020.
The Four Priorities were:
- Becoming a Pro-reconciling/Anti-racist church
- Formation of 1,000 new congregations by 2020
- Transformation of 1,000 current congregations by 2020
- Leadership development necessary to realize these new and renewed congregations
Signs that the priorities have transformed the Church include:
- Pro-reconciliation/anti-racism training is now required continuing education for clergy in the majority of regions and in general ministries.
- The General Board and other ministry boards are accountable for the demographics of their boards with an eye to 30 percent of members being people of color in addition to geographic and age representation.
- The Executive Search model is used for many leadership positions.
- A racism audit of governing documents was completed.
- More than 1,000 faith communities were planted with a 60 percent success rate after five years.
Becoming a Pro-reconciling/Anti-racist church
Reconciliation Ministry is the special ministry of the Church that fights the primary causes of racism in North America. Strides toward becoming a Pro-reconciling/Anti-racist Church were made with support from the Reconciliation Offering soon after the 2020 Vision was adopted.
The Pro-reconciliation/Anti-Racism Initiative was founded upon the need to make visible God’s beloved community. It invites the church to listen to the once silenced voices of its racial/ethnic communities, learn from their wisdom and gain insight from their leadership. It calls the church to discernment and prayer, study of the scriptures and reflection, dialogue and table fellowship. The true goal is to transform, strengthen and deepen the church’s spirituality, resulting in a community that understands its mission to be about bringing justice and salvation to the world.
Formation of 1,000 new congregations by 2020
The founders of the Stone-Campbell Movement were passionate about bringing new Disciples to the table. More Disciples congregations originated between 2000 and 2010 than any decade in the Church’s history. In 2020, Disciples celebrate that more than 1,000 faith communities were started over the last two decades with a 60 percent success rate.
The effort to establish new congregations is supported by the Pentecost Offering, which is witness to the passion among the Disciples of Christ to start new churches. The offering is equally divided between the region in which the offering is received and general new church ministry.
Transformation of 1,000 current congregations by 2020
The priority to transform 1,000 congregations received leadership and input from diverse sources, including pastors whose congregations are involved in transformation, staff persons from Disciples Home Missions, the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, Church Extension, and the College of Regional Ministers. Many congregations used Disciples as well as outside consultants to do the work of transformation.
Leadership development necessary to realize these new and renewed congregations
Ongoing development of appropriate and effective lay and ordained leadership is critical to the success of the other three priorities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Church desires to shape its leaders in the ways and reign of God. The values that the Church looks for in its leaders include an abiding faith, a yearning for justice, a spirit of unity in Jesus Christ, love for compassion and caring, a commitment for mission and outreach, and dedication to stewardship, among others.
There are ongoing efforts focusing on leader development throughout the Church on the congregational, Regional, and General ministry expressions. Fifteen colleges and universities and seven theological institutions are officially related to the Church and offer education for ministry and life from a Disciple foundation. Higher Education and Leadership Ministries has sought to develop new leaders through its “Leadership Fellows” program. Disciples Home Missions is involved in leader development through Disciples Volunteering in partnership with Week of Compassion, Family and Children’s Ministries, Men’s Ministries, Women’s Ministries, and Youth and Young Adult Ministries.