Pastor guides church into the 21st century

By Jeff Campbell

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Dr. Myron McCoy, left, greets guests at Chicago Temple.

Silos work great on a farm, but not so well in churches.

The Rev. Dr. Myron McCoy went to First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple in July of 2014. He found groups of people committed to ministry, but to ministry of their own particular interest – not to the church as a whole.

He quickly realized he needed to change this silo mentality.

“We had a good church,” Dr. McCoy said. “A lot of diversity. A good mix of ages, races, and cultures, and people with good hearts, but we also had a lot of theological misunderstanding.”

The church had a ministry to the homeless that provided clothes, food, and legal help. There was another ministry group that addressed social justice. Another group was committed to the church’s music ministry. For each one of these, those involved held more allegiance to their choice ministry than to the church. Dr. McCoy knew he couldn’t change this overnight. He knew he needed to dig deeper into why this was happening.

“It took me a couple of years to really understand this and how it had affected the church,” he said.

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Members of Chicago Temple participate in Chicago’s Out of Darkness Walk each year, calling awareness to suicide prevention.

The church needed to get on a path to 21st century ministry – an integrated ministry. Dr. McCoy hired an outside company to conduct a comprehensive assessment to help him get a true picture of the church. Through this process he learned he needed to help the church leadership understand the “silo system” the church was operating under. He knew much of the leadership might not see the problem because they were part of the culture themselves.

“Some of what we discovered were the differences in our theologies,” Dr. McCoy said. “Our consultant said he honestly was surprised we’d held together as along as we had.”

The church began to work to learn a common language and understanding about the mission of the church. This helped Dr. McCoy and the leaders get on the same page. The church began studying Discipleship Fast Track, a study from Cokesbury.

“Discipleship Fast Track is a 24-week class,” Dr. McCoy said. “Learning and engaging in theological study helped us get on the same track.”

“Some of what we discovered were the differences in our theologies. Our consultant said he honestly was surprised we’d held together as along as we had.”

The Chicago Temple choir singing at Christkindlmarket, a festival modeled after German Christmas markets.

During the next couple of years, the church worked and got the disparate ideas together, developed a new branding strategy, established an affirmation of their mission, wrote a statement of welcome and inclusion, and adopted a new motto and updated vision statement.

“We are now in the implementation stages of seeking to go meet others with Christ’s love,” Dr. McCoy said. “Part of building discipleship is being welcoming and reaching out to others.”

Given the growth and changes in Chicago Temple’s church structure, the Northern Illinois Annual Conference awarded the church a 2019 One Matters Award.

“We now have one congregation, not several,” he continued. “I think people see their first allegiance to the congregation, not one particular ministry. We have a few ministries now where people get to know each other. We intentionally create more opportunities for people to linger around and develop relationships.”

First UMC at the Chicago Temple is a great example of a congregation making the mission of the church the guiding idea for all that they do. What would happen if you and your leaders became more intentional about making disciples, changing the structure and all that we do, to better support our mission?

Praying you discover or re-discover your why and your mission,


Rev. Jeff Campbell is the General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries. He comes to this role having led Discipleship Ministries as the Associate General Secretary for Strategic Programming, where he coordinated the work of the agency around three strategic priorities: an Intentional Discipleship System in every church; equipping local churches to engage their communities; and lifting up and creating local, contextual resources globally. Rev. Campbell joined Discipleship Ministries in 2013 as Executive Director of Conference Relationships.