Congregational Development


Rick McKinley
Director of Congregational Development
(978) 682-7676 ext. 210 or (781) 534-2234 

Helpful links

Congregational Development is a holistic approach to the development and growth of a congregation's ministries, participation, and impact on its community and world. 

Merging the studies of missions, evangelism, leadership, discipleship, and organizational development Congregational Development seeks to extend the Gospel of Christ by supporting the work of congregations of Christians in their core tasks of making more and better disciples and having a greater and deeper impact on the world.

Who we are

Director of Congregational Development Rick McKinley is committed to spending at least half of his time working directly with local churches. He is also available to coach, having received training through Coaching4Clergy and accreditation through the International Coaching Federation.

If you as pastor or your lead team would like to learn more about the coaching process, as well as the extraordinary benefits of coaching, please contact him.

Rev. McKinley is also available for conversation about congregation revitalization, leadership development or to address organizational questions.

What we do 

Local congregations were not created to last forever, and they move through regular cycles of growth, leveling off, decline, and revitalization. The work of Congregational Development is divided into three areas: starting new churches, supporting and revitalizing existing churches, and shepherding churches in decline and crisis.

Congregational Development Grants

Each year congregations may apply for grants from the Together For Tomorrow (TFT) and Urban Ministry funds. Both TFT and Urban Ministry grants are one-time grants and are not intended to support ministries on an ongoing basis. The deadline for these grants is May 15 each year. For more details, download the appropriate application below:

Together For Tomorrow grants

The TFT grants are intended to help congregations start new ministries as they seek to reach more people, more young people, and more diverse people.

Together for Tomorrow Application

Urban Ministry grants

The Urban Ministry grants primarily are for supporting churches engaged in the Urban Ministry Training Program, however, there are also a limited number of funds available for churches in urban settings that are not part of this program. 

Urban Ministry Application

Hebrews 11 Grants

The Hebrews 11 fund was established several years ago and uses money from the sale of churches and parsonages that have closed to seed new ministry. This allows the legacy of those congregations to live into the future in new ways, helping the New England Conference reach new people, more young people and more diverse people.

Applications may be submitted by existing congregations or for new church starts. There are two deadlines for the Hebrews 11 grants each year, Feb. 1 and Sept. 1. 

These grant applications are extensive, and it is strongly recommended that applicants contact Rick McKinley well ahead of time to discuss the process.

Click the link for a full explanation of the grant process, requirements and application form

Congregational Development Training and Tools

Urban Ministry Training Project (UMTP)

The UMTP is a two-year intentional training and planning for ministry in the urban context based on the proven system developed by John Vincent at the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, England. At the end of the two years, the congregation will be eligible for specific urban grants to support a newly developed ministry that comes out of the work. UMTP brochure

Discovering the Possibilities

The Discovering the Possibilities (Ministry Action Potential Study) is a facilitated process designed to assist congregational leaders in understanding the realities of their ministry context and current ministries, and to begin discerning possibilities for future ministry. We believe that every congregation has the potential to be faithful and fruitful in ministry. Statistics are clear, however, that this is not the current reality for many of our congregations. Discovering the Possibilities is a process designed to give congregations a realistic sense of what fulfilling their ministry potential might mean. Summary of the process


Discovering your church's ministry opportunities has never been easier. Missioninsite provides instant access to community information for your church via the MI system. You'll get desktop, web-based access to demographic data for a variety of geographic levels. Enjoy exploring your ministry area and discovering new mission opportunities! The website is  Click here for more information on how to register your church 

Conference resources

The work of developing congregations is supported in the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church in a number of ways:

District Superintendents

District Superintendents can be a fount of helpful advice and guidance, and their support and permission is necessary for most development activities.  Keep them up to speed through regular and helpful communication, and involve them in praying for the work of your church.

Conference and District Congregational Development Teams

Our connectional structure includes teams of people prepared to resource local churches in their work. On the Conference level these teams include:

  • Board of Congregational and Community Development
  • Town & Country (small and rural churches)
  • Urban Ministries 
  • District Congregational Development Ministry Area Teams

New England Conference Parish Consultants

The Parish Consultants are an independent pool of experienced consultants to local, district and regional church bodies. This group has been a primary resource for congregational development for many years, and they continue to play a critical role in developing our churches.