Stories of Transformation: Water of Life Church Serves Its People
Water of Life Church was a growing congregation in New York City drawing predominately young Latino families in the Bronx. But while the members felt numerous improvements had been made since Carlos Franco became the bivocational pastor 11 years ago, they were emerging from a legalistic background and wanted to evaluate their current situation.
Due to their familiarity with LifeWay’s small group curriculum, Pastor Franco and the church board chose to use the Transformational Church Assessment Tool (TCAT) to give them a more accurate and analytical view of their congregation’s health.
But they faced a serious of obstacles in having their 90 or so church members complete the survey – many individuals did not speak English and several were unfamiliar with computers.
“Thank God the surveys were in Spanish,” says Franco. “That was a great help and is one of the reasons I like LifeWay as a bilingual pastor.”
As it turned out the solution to the computer illiteracy was an example of the church growing in an area TCAT revealed as an area of weakness. Franco says Water of Life came across needing to develop more of the relational aspects and providing avenues for members to serve. They did both of those things in the way they helped those uncomfortable around computers.
“We trained our young people, the ones who are very computer literate, and set up two Friday nights for the others to come to church,” he says. “On the ten computers we have at our church, the young people sat down with some senior citizens and others and helped them go through it.”
While some did go through it at home on their own, he says, the majority completed the TCAT questionnaire at church because it was the only place they would have access to a computer.
Once the results came back, Franco and the church leadership were able to evaluate how things were progressing. One area in particular stood out as a positive – the worship experience.
“Prior to TCAT, we had diversified and changed our worship format and the people seem to appreciate that,” Franco says. Previously, services stretched for four hours with the sermon being only a small part of that. After cutting the time in half, the results showed the pastor that “people were feeling comfortable in our church.”
As they learned more about providing people with a sense of ownership in the church and giving them additional ways to serve. Franco says Water of Life developed teams that could open up more ministry opportunities.
In seeing that the church could do better with being relational, Franco says the leadership instituted a rule that none of them could stand around after the service speaking only to their friends and family. They had to be available to talk to guests and visitors. “We needed to say people we care about them,” he says.
For Franco, the format of TCAT was particularly helpful. “I kind of had an idea where our weak areas where, but what I like best about the survey and the results was it gave specifics,” he says. “Take evangelism for example. Even though we had a score for evangelism overall, we saw some areas within that category that we still need to work on.”
The growth that has occurred with the help of TCAT is only the beginning according to Franco. Seeing the need to build relationships and connect with their community better challenged the church to meet the practical and tangible needs of those around them. “People have spiritual needs, but they also have physical needs,” he says. “So we are looking for ways to supply those basic needs.”
With their new trajectory and TCAT information, Water of Life is seeking to become an integral part of their Bronx community for years to come.
More information about the TCAT can be found online at tcat.lifeway.com.