What is the Ichnos Project?

Ichnos is Greek for footprints, steps, or paths. 1 Peter 2:21 spells this out: ‚ÄúYou were called to this kind of¬† endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. He left you an example¬†so that you might follow in his¬† footsteps.‚ÄĚ (CEB)¬†

‚Äʬ†Ministry is about implementing Jesus‚Äôs vision (e.g., walking in His footprints) in new ways that fit our¬† community and our church context.¬†

‚Äʬ†The nuts and bolts of ministry requires us to analyze what works and what doesn‚Äôt work in our context for¬† making and growing disciples.¬†¬†

‚Äʬ†Ministry requires learning to be bold in leadership. Ministry is about creating the new steps and new paths¬† that churches need to travel in this new, post-pandemic, post-Christendom world that all of us are¬† experiencing in real-time.¬†

‚Äʬ†Not everyone goes to church or wants to go to church but we know that the grace-filled, mercy-filled life that¬† Jesus provides is good, and available, to everyone. We have to get church right for those folks. Getting it right¬† means a lot of self-reflection, self-examination, and teamwork to learn and study our own churches.¬†

The Ichnos Project is a twelve-month church and leadership development program that steps church teams  through a series of monthly topics, assigns deliberate practices, and provides individualized coaching for each  church. Each Ichnos church team must consist of at least one pastor and a minimum of three lay persons from the  congregation. 

Monthly topics include: 

o Calendar Clarity  

o Driven by Purpose, Not by Preference o Vibe, Vision, & Values 

o Mental Models 

o Courageous Leadership 

o Touch Points 

o Pathways Deeper  o Experimental Evolving o Leadership Development o Spiritual Formation o Care & Connection o Content Creation 

Each team is required to attend one monthly two-hour zoom call where new concepts will be introduced. Then  each team will meet one to four times per month to discuss the new concepts and to consider how the concepts  fit into the church’s culture, context, and community; and will complete the deliberate practices assigned. Finally,  each team will meet with their assigned coach approximately two weeks after the monthly meeting to describe  what they have been doing and address questions asked by the coach, in order to move the deliberate practice  forward. The time commitment is approximately 6-8 hours per month. 

Each church team will be supported by the Ichnos Team: Ron Martoia, Lisa Keys-Mathews, Ron Schultz, and Mike  O’Kelley; and a group of coaches selected based on their experience and commitment to helping churches thrive. 

For more information, contact Conference Lay Leader Lisa Keys-Mathews (lkeysmathews@umcna.org) or Ron  Schultz (rschultz@umcna.org), Executive Director of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Also, talk with your District  Superintendent about joining us! 

You can also go to this link that takes you to the launch page of the Ichnos 2.0 which includes a church testimonial video.


Message from Pastor Henry Prater about Ichnos

Hello Arab First UMC Church Family!

I wanted to take a minute to share about a really good opportunity that our church has been offered. A little over two years ago, a partnership between our conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the United Methodist Foundation created a program called Ichnos. 

I participated in this with my previous congregation and was excited when Arab First UMC was invited to participate in this year‚Äôs cohort. This wound up being very beneficial for Edgemont UMC, as we were able to clarify that the pandemic years had robbed us of momentum, a vision for the future, and really, a sense of who we were in total. We spent the Lenten season diving into what our ‚ÄúVibes, Values, and Vision‚ÄĚ was as a congregation and how that could propel us forward. It was an exciting time!

When Lisa Key-Matthews, our Conference Lay Leader and my previous coach in Ichnos, emailed about this opportunity, I thought it could be a very good thing for us. Coming out of our onboarding meetings, I learned a good deal of what our congregation had been through over the last two years. I believe that Ichnos could help with our continued healing process as well as springboard us forward into ministry in our community in new ways. I discussed this with Brooke and she agreed, so we began to work on who our team would be. Our team needs to reflect our church makeup and be a mix of clergy, staff, and laity, as well as a mix of our two worship services. Our Ichnos team currently includes:

Henry Prater, Brooke Hemphill, Dawn Liebner, Kelli Gregory, Jonathan Sanford, Dianne Prestridge, Andrew Liebner, Jami Russell, Stephen Beard. 

As our team developed, there were some questions, so I asked Lisa if she would meet with us to explain what Ichnos was and what it could offer for our church. We had a great call this past Thursday, July 20. As Lisa went over the program, folks got excited. Yet, there was still a bit of trepidation. Many shared that they liked the program, however, similarities to your discernment process and having a small team set off alarm bells. They believed that this would still be a good process for us, but that full transparency was of the utmost importance. I couldn’t agree more.

Church, this is the beginning of that transparency. Our team and I want everyone to know what we are learning, how we see it impacting our church, and what information or strategies we might think about implementing. We plan to give you regular updates as we go through this process, which begins on August 10th. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to get in touch with me.

Thank you for being a part of Arab First United Methodist Church. I am grateful to be your pastor.

Pastor Henry

Ichnos Project Update - August 27, 2023

We had our first Ichnos session on Thursday, August 10. I’d like to share a little about the process of Ichnos and what we learned from our first session. Each session is conducted over Zoom. There are approximately 10 other churches going through the process with us. Facilitator Ron Martoia leads the discussion. He introduces a topic, discusses the meaning and the benefits, and then we break off into our church session to brainstorm.

After each session, our church team will get together to do the ‚Äúhomework‚ÄĚ prompted by our brainstorming sessions then meet with our coach, Lisa Keys-Mathews to solidify thoughts and ideas. The focus is to see what we can do as a church to better serve our congregation, our community, and God.

There are twelve topics and we will cover one each month. Any ideas or proposed changes that come up throughout Ichnos will go through the normal process the church uses to make decisions. The topic for the first month was calendars: the church calendar, Pastor Henry’s calendar, and frankly all of our calendars. There were a lot of good take-aways, but the biggest is that if we don’t manage our calendars, our calendars will manage us.

Examples of the topics we discussed were:

What are the biggest challenges to the health and growth of AFUMC? Where are we stuck?

Is our church calendar working for us? What are the goals for the events on the calendar? Are the events meeting those goals? Are the events at this time accomplishing what we hoped when compared to the time, money, and volunteers needed for the event?

How can we better identify and mentor volunteers for old and new ministries?

We will continue to work through these questions this month and share some of the ways we can implement the ideas that work for us at Arab FUMC. If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to discuss, please feel free to connect with me through the church office.

Stephen Beard, Ichnos Team Member


6 I’s = Ideal Iteration, Important Injected, Immediate Identified

Everything that happens in our lives has a place on the calendar. When thinking of calendar planning- in both our personal and church calendars- we can use the tool above in deciding where things land in our day-to-day.

Putting every decision through this test of ‚Äėimportance and urgency‚Äô can help us all to prioritize what makes it on the calendar and when it should happen. By using this as a litmus test- it gives us permission to let go of some of the calendared events that aren't productive or life giving to the church. Learning to do this can change the way we serve our congregation, our community, and most importantly, God.

When we are making healthy choices with our time- we can expect meaningful time spent with our church and community. And that is game changing.