SIX-MINUTE STUDY #62
Intentional listening is a key step in being missional in our communities. It's important to discover afresh who are the people we are seeking to serve in our neighbourhood. This means asking questions, observing the daily life of the people, and watching where God is already at work. Read about one Ontario congregation and how they began to reach out in mission. The article is entitled “Community Engagement: Where Should a Church Begin?," by Anglican priest, Matt Adams.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #61
A new person has visited your Sunday worship time or church event. What are the things that can be done to help connect this guest with your faith community? We begin by asking the question, what can we do to serve them, instead of what they can do for us (become a member, volunteer or offering giver). People usually visit a church because there is some spiritual question. How can our congregations approach these newcomer needs? READ the article called “What’s Your Goal for Visitor Follow-Up? by Lovett H. Weems, Jr..
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #60
Christian Formation is a key building block for vital congregations. The Building Healthy Parishes Team (VSST) has named this as the first priority in its work in the Diocese for the next while. People inside and outside of the church have questions and are seeking to know more about God and about authentic faith. Read this Alban Institute/Duke Divinity School article entitled, “Encouraging Lay Theology,” by Bruce Epperly. He writes, “At our congregation, adult faith formation programs have become the major source of new members and Sunday visitors and have brought vitality to our congregation.”
CHECK OUT our easy-to-use PowerPoint presentation on Christian Formation.
SEE: “Building Blocks - Christian Formation (PPT)”
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #59
People in our culture see Sundays differently today. Whether it is because there are more shift workers, sports events, Sunday shopping or hundreds of cable TV channels – the reason does not matter. Sundays are not solely a family and faith day any more. How can churches help spiritual seekers discover God at other times and in other ways? Read this article from Congregational Consulting Group to explore this idea further. It is entitled, “Sunday May Be Sacred, But Church Is Not,” by Sarai Rice.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #58
Holy Week and Easter are prime opportunities to connect with visitors and special-occasion worship attenders. When someone new (or newer) shows up at one of these holy day services it shows they have an interest in God, spirituality and/or your faith community. This is a potential relationship-building opening that is a gift. How can we show radical hospitality and share something of the Good News with these ‘seekers’? Here are some ideas from an article entitled, “9 Ways to Welcome Church Visitors on Easter,” written by Carolyn Moomaw Chilton, Assistant for Evangelism and Stewardship at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #57
Learning how to lead takes a lifetime. Being a lay or clergy leader in 2017 means facing challenges and complexities in ministry like no other time. Improving our communication skills, emphasizing team-work and facilitating effective meetings are some areas in which leadership skills can be refined. Pick up some basic tips from this article called, “Keep Learning To Lead: Five Practical Lessons,” written by Gavin Ortlund.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #56
Conflict. A helpful thing? Or a destructive thing? To be human means we will encounter tension and conflict from time to time in our lives. And certainly in the Church it is present too. How we ‘process’ the conflict and the behaviours associated with these struggles play an important role in how we manage it. Explore a fresh perspective related to our personalities that may have some bearing on helpful approaches to conflict.
“Unconventional Wisdom: Is Conflict a Bad Thing?,” comes from the experts at the Alban Institute (at Duke University).
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #55
Here’s a Holy Week-related idea to help people actively engage their faith at home. You may have seen how some churches are giving out “Lent in a Bag” resources to encourage exploration of Lenten themes outside of Sunday worship. (See St. John’s Truro, in the Diocesan and Parish Vitality Coordinator Facebook pages.) Here’s an idea to consider for Holy Week. Whether your parish hosts worship and activities all during Holy Week or not, this is a way to carry Christian spiritual disciplines outside of the church building to families, friends and neighbours. Check out Virginia Theological Seminary’s ‘Building Faith’ page link to “Holy Week In a Box.”
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #54
Exploring and sharing in spiritual disciplines is a great way for people to try new things, grow deeper in faith and build relationships with each other. A method of contemplative prayer called “Lectio Divina” is one idea. This ancient form of prayer is a model way to learn how to be more present to God and can provide an opening to discernment or prayerful listening. Try it during one of your Lenten Bible studies, ACW gatherings, prayer group sessions or even at a church meeting.
Here’s a link to an Anglican Communion site that explains what Lectio Divina is, including a printable guide.
And visit this site to read the article, “Lectio Divina and Contemplative Prayer in Small Groups,” written by Adele Calhoun.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #53
Lent is the perfect time to take stock of our blessings and to intentionally cultivate a spirit of generosity. Throughout the 40 days of this solemn season we work on our interior life, acknowledging all that we are and have come from our generous God. In our abundance of health, wealth and faith (and time), how can we respond appropriately with a sense of gratitude and joy?
Explore these themes in a daily devotional, a Lutheran resource, “Lenten Devotional – Stewardship Principles”. The writings are based on St. Paul’s letters to the First Christians in Corinth. The document is in a pdf format, so it can be easily printed off. (It was designed for 2016, so ignore the dates.) Use these at church meetings and parish gatherings, or simply for your private devotions.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #52
Effective communication and strong leadership go hand in hand. And it’s not as challenging as some may think. Communication begins with simple steps involving listening, and also speaking, writing, reading and actions. Here are some basic tips to in the article called “The Leader as Communicator,” by Lovett H. Weems, Jr.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #51
Everyone who is baptized is a minister in the church. In this time of what Rowan Willams called "the Reimagination" we are rebuilding ministry and ALL ministers are required to share in this work.
Here's an article about an Old Testament account of faithful ministry where one man defined the reality of the situation, named a vision, and then engaged the people to accomplish it. Read "Ten Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah", written by Lovett H. Weems, Jr.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #50
Church can happen in ordinary places. Here’s a simple yet inspiring story of a 27-year-old woman who is living out Christ’s mission by building new relationships through a routine activity – washing clothes. Samantha Sammis began with a group of friends to be intentional - “Love Jesus, love our neighbours, see what happens.”
Read this good news story called, “God's work unfolds at a Charleston laundromat” by Stephanie Hunt.
“Started by a young woman wanting simply to live out the gospel, loving her neighbour as herself, Laundry Matters is a vibrant community center and more. It’s church-as-laundromat, laundromat-as-church.”
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #49
Holy smoke, Lent begins in exactly one month! Do you need some fresh ideas? On March 1st., Ash Wednesday, we begin a journey together with Christ to the Cross and eventually to the Tomb on Resurrection Sunday. Here are some ideas for Lenten worship and other seasonal activities from Anglican sources:
Anglican Church of Canada - Lent 2017 resources
Anglican Church of Canada - Liturgical Texts for trial use and feedback – Includes Morning and Evening Prayer for the Seasons of the Church Year. Plus Collects and Seasonal Prayers for Years A, B and C, along with Seasonal Prayers over the Gifts and after Communion. (Revised May 2016)
Anglicans Online – Lent and Easter Resources
For more articles and our own Diocesan stories/photos, see Facebook: Parish Vitality Coordinator – Diocese of NS & PEI.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #48
Whether it be family-sized or megga-sized congregations, small groups are required to be a vital church. They come in all shapes and varieties, but when they work well they are an integral part of "being" the church and not just "doing" church.
Let’s be clear, small groups are not just the next trendy church idea. In fact they are God’s idea and Jesus modeled some of the best examples of them in our scriptures. Read the article, “Why Small Groups? - The reason behind intentional Christian community,” by Carolyn Taketa, the Small Groups Director at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California.
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #47
Leadership is the central focus for our churches as we prepare for Annual Meetings and new Parish and Church Councils. Members on these governing boards review the ministry work of the previous year, but more importantly set the course for 2017. Before we jump into the work right away it is a good idea to start the year with positive and clear intentions for this group’s ministry.
The Episcopal (Anglican) Church in the United States offers some great resources in their “Vestry Papers” webpages. Read the article, “Beginning Your Vestry’s Work Together,” by Nathan E. Kirkpatrick, and explore some ideas for starting the council leadership year off well. (NOTE: ‘vestry’ is the same as council.)
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #46
Two key components are required for healthy and effective ministry teams in congregations. One is a solid mission strategy and vision to help focus the time, talents and energies of parishioners. The other is an intentional priority of genuine relationships – both within and outside the church. (As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”)
Read what Gannon Simms, of Fresh Expressions USA has to say about “What’s Essential to a Good Ministry Team.”
SIX-MINUTE STUDY #45
Happy New Year! Lots of people in January are pondering how this year could be different, healthier and maybe even holier. Churches can offer something intentional in terms of Christian Formation, where folks can come, ask questions, and explore their spirituality in a caring atmosphere. Ultimately we long for people to grow spiritually and encounter the Christ who transforms lives. Small group gatherings are the most effective way to do this.
Read this comprehensive article by author Amy Jackson called “Intentional Spiritual Growth in Small Groups -
Understanding how we grow and change.”