The Catalyst Initiative, a program of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, inspires and empowers local churches to thrive in mission and ministry by partnering with their communities in life-changing ways. The Baltimore-Washington Conference connects 603 diverse churches in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the panhandle of West Virginia. Its mission is to inspire and equip these local faith communities to develop disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world so that more “transformed lives transform lives.” The Catalyst Initiative is designed to complement that mission and vision. Propelled by a shared foundational doctrine to live out a love of God and a love of neighbor, it enables leaders from 100 churches to receive and extend grace in ways that create wellness, justice, hope, and vitality. Reflecting the racial and economic diversity of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, the initiative includes thriving congregations, united by a desire for spiritual growth, an eagerness for change, and a mandate to serve their community and world. Using a cohort model, the Catalyst Initiative provides participating congregations with resources, including: powerful diagnostic and self-reflection tools to understand the church and community they serve; a combination of digital and in-person training sessions that call on best practices for church growth, innovation, and community development; mentoring and peer-learning opportunities; and creative evaluation measurements to ensure that sound theory results in effective action. This initiative enables churches to claim a holy imagination, discover interesting ways of expressing their faith that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, shape new discipleship systems, and develop achievable metrics for measuring impact. As participants continue to meet, they will pioneer new ideas about how they operate in a post-pandemic world, discern ways their congregations can be relevant to new generations, and build enthusiasm and contextual paths for growth in ministry and discipleship, all while remaining rooted in the best of Methodism.
Catalyst Initiative: Creating Thriving Congregations and Communities