Want a church that is growing stronger spiritually and in numbers? The Acts 16.5 Initiative just might be for you.

The Rev. E. Stanley Ott has presented this program he developed in many presbyteries, and some of the people who have participated gathered for breakfast Friday (July 6) to share their enthusiasm and tell others about it at the 220th General Assembly meeting here.

The Rev. Anne Hébert, pastor of the 300-member First Presbyterian Church of Garland, Texas, in Grace Presbytery, told the gathering they have gained 40 new members in the last year. “They are African immigrants,” she told the gathering. “We have a rockin-out worship service with people dancing the offering up the aisle.

“We also have started small groups. We have been more open to the movement of the Spirit. People have come to me with ideas, and then they just go out and do it,” she said. One couple started a group that is now up to 58 people.

The Rev. Ayars Lore, a teaching elder participant in a church between Jamestown and Williamsburg in the Presbytery of the James, told others at his breakfast table, “It’s so cool. Every church has its own journey. So they work out that journey as they move into the Acts 16:5 Initiative.”

Ott introduced the program’s concepts to the gathering. “While we disagree about many things, when it comes to the vitality of the church, we all agree,” he said.

There are three essentials that lead a congregation to be robust, he said. The first is “the fellowship of the burning heart,” people who engage in daily quiet contact with God. The second is a three-dimensional ecclesiology—“Loving the Lord who loves us,”  “Loving the people God gives us,” and “Loving the world to which God sends us.” The third essential, he said, is “mobility.”