Next Level Innovations Report

On November 24, 2019, the Next Level Innovations team presented their report to the congregation of Virginia Beach United Methodist Church. The PDF of this report is now available online and may be accessed by clicking the button on the right. It contains the team’s observations and analysis of the church’s strengths, weaknesses, and suggested innovations.

Next Steps

Town Halls

Virginia Beach United Methodist Church will hold Town Hall meetings to discuss this report and recommended innovations.
The dates for these town halls are as follows:

  • Sunday, December 8 at 4:00 PM
  • Tuesday, December 10 at 7:00 PM

Church Conference

The congregation will vote on this report at an official church conference led by the district superintendent on Monday, December 16 at 6:30 PM.
If the report and innovations are approved by a vote of at least 70% of official church members present and voting, the NLI process will continue with the implementation of these innovations. If the report and innovations are not accepted, the NLI process will be deemed complete and the resources of NLI will move on to other churches.


Please feel free to share observations and comments in preparation for the upcoming Town Halls by emailing

Listen to Mark Miller, Darrick Wickre and Doug Wilbourne share the premise behind Next Level Innovations. The steering team also includes Laura Ezell. 



What is Next Level Innovations?
Next Level Innovations is an investment in churches that have recognized potential for reaching more people in their community and inviting them to be part of our mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
Where did this start?
The Next Level Innovations process is the model of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church that is based on similar processes in other UM Conferences. It is based on a foundation of prayer, monthly clergy training (with other clergy going through the same process), pertinent data gathering, and two congregational events including a weekend of church study. This is followed up with a specially developed detailed report and innovation recommendations for our congregation as well as follow-up coaching and mentoring in working towards those innovations. Our Church Leadership Council voted to use this process for Strategic Planning as it would encompass not only our congregation but objective leaders and mentors from our conference and beyond. We are excited that Jacob Armstrong, a nationally renowned United Methodist pastor from Nashville, is working with our congregation.
Who’s involved with this?
In our congregation we have a Next Level Innovations Steering team composed of staff members Mark Miller and Laura Ezell along with members of our congregation Darrick Wickre and Doug Wilbourne. They are joined by various subteams such as our Breakthrough Prayer Team and a Spiritual Formation Study team. Ultimately the entire church is invited to participate in the process at our Ministry Focus Event on May 16 and our Innovations Weekend study later in November.
What’s been going on so far?
To date it’s been behind the scenes preparations. Firstly, we’ve been engaging in prayer—leadership and the congregation have been joining in our “Breakthrough Prayer”, asking for the Holy Spirit to fill and move in our church.  Pastor Mark has been having monthly training & coaching meetings with other pastors in this process to further skills. The Steering Team has been meeting to plan and discuss three books they’ve been reading together, Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger, Flood Gates by Sue Nilson Kibbey, and Connect by Phil Maynard. (Click here for a blog on Canoeing the Mountains). These readings have helped begin the conversation of how to navigate change, how to approach missional alignment, and how to open conversations around our future goals and strategies to implement those goals.
What can I do to get involved?
We ask that you faithfully pray for this process, asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we discern how to be disciples of Jesus Christ. You may pray however you wish, but we suggest our “Breakthrough Prayer”: 
Come Holy Spirit and fill this church. 
Break through our tendency to seek out what is comfortable and familiar. 
Lead us in the direction we should be going and give us strength to follow. 






As part of Next Level Innovations Strategic Planning Process, we are measuring various discipleship levels at Virginia Beach United Methodist Church.

Please help us by taking this survey.

There are two ways to take the survey. Choose the option that’s best for you, either online or in-person.


Online: Please take this 5-minute survey at the link below.

Be sure to review the instructions before taking the survey.

Deadline for completed surveys is October 1.




In-Person: On Sundays, September 22 and September 29, Doug Wilbourne will be available inside the Administrative Wing between worship services and after the 11:00 a.m. service to assist with a paper copy of the survey.

The process will take about 3-4 minutes.

If you have any questions, please contact Doug Wilbourne by cell at 757-617-3238.