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Clare Jewell opened his “thriving-churches” workshop at the 2021 GARBC Conference with this profound and thought-provoking statement. Clare emphasized that rather than being bothered by the new normal caused by COVID, believers must see it as an awesome opportunity to assess and reset their churches’ mission. We need to “move from program based to relational based,” Clare emphasized, because “programs can get in the way of what is best.”

Clare named three focus areas in which a church can shift from programs to people: outreach, disciple making, and leadership development. These three areas are vital signs, indicating a thriving church. Clare developed each point and invited feedback and suggestions from the audience. “Discipleship making can be messy,” says Clare, “but just like raising kids or growing a garden, it’s worth it in the end.” The goal is not just making disciples but developing “spiritual parents,” who in turn make disciples.

Claire ended his module by naming several resources for developing these vital signs in a local church, and offering in-person consultations. To learn more, visit