Sometimes we think innovative approaches to mission and ministry are complicated, but they don’t have to be. Creative faith-building ideas can certainly be simple and not big budget. This means we use what we have – our strengths and gifts – to start something new.  Read about a congregation that was ready to close its doors in Massachusetts.  The article is called, “Simple Church blends dinner, worship and enterprise to create a new model,” published on Duke University’s Faith & Leadership website.

Be sure to read to the end for the ‘Questions to consider’ exercise.


   It won’t be long when students, teachers and school staff are back in class. Local churches can join in the excitement as a new education year begins – whether it be for grade school children or college-age students. Engage the community – both inside and outside your church – through some simple and creative initiatives. Here are two articles from the Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal) webpage “Building Faith.”

Build a Back to School Prayer Station - posted by Christine Hides


The Sacrament of Back to School - posted by Lisa Brown


   Congregations in rural areas where the population is declining face different challenges as compared to urban and suburban churches. Regardless of the context though, the principles of knowing your neighbourhood, responding to the needs of the residents, listening (to them and to God), and offering relevant ministry can lead to vibrancy and spiritual growth. 

Watch this video about church leader Alistair Birkett as he shares the story of “Gateways,” a rural fresh expression of church in the Scottish Borders.

To watch the YouTube video (9:12 minutes) go to:


As you read/view this example of a Fresh Expression of church, what principles can you draw from it for your own particular church context? What resonates for you? Where is there hope?


   The roles of paid clergy are shifting in our Diocese as more parishes move to part-time priests and consider new models of team ministry. By reimagining the roles of lay and clergy people (and adapting healthier expectations), some churches are discovering new vitality and expanded missional opportunities. One research project based out of Maine, reveals that three models have emerged that illustrate how vital congregations are making the adjustment: the minister as equipper of laypeople, the minister as ambassador and the minister as team member


To learn more read, "A move to part-time clergy sparks innovation in congregations,” written by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, an article posted in


   August is a great time to plan for leadership development for this autumn season. Congregations with vitality are always looking for ways to encourage more people to join the 'team' and expand ministry. There are various ways to approach raising up new leaders and it's not as difficult as one might think. 

Here is one simple approach for one-on-one mentoring of potential new leaders. Read "Simple Strategies for Raising Up New Leaders", written by church consultant and author, Kay Kotan.


   A church in exile. Several scholars describe the place of congregations in these days of immense cultural change, as similar to the Babylonian Exile. One writer for the Alban Institute, Duke University, says, “If the church is to live out its calling as a witness of the gospel it will become necessary for it to see itself as a missionary to its culture. This means discerning ways in which the church can go into its community and engage it with acts of servanthood and proclamation.”


Read more of this fascinating article, with many Biblical insights, about how Christians in exile can respond. The essay is called, “The Church in Exile: Being a Missionary to the Dominant Culture.”


   A building with a pointy roof. A schedule of ancient rituals. A hierarchical institution doing social justice work. What is ‘church’, anyway? This question is becoming more and more important for us to examine and define, especially as we minister in a post-Christendom era. Fresh Expressions and the Church of England have been diving deep into this query for some time. Read what Methodist pastor Luke Edwards has to say about it in his article, “What is Church anyways?”



   Delegation. We all know it is vitally important to congregational health and mission, but many of us find it difficult to do. Lay and clergy leaders who strive to deepen and expand ministry in their community need to call upon others to join in. Here are some tips on how to achieve more shared ministry in your parish context.

Take a look at pastor Ron Edmondson’s article called “4 Easy Steps To Healthy Delegation.”


   An old Sesame Street song used to ask, “Who are the people in your neighbourhood?" That's a great question for every church. Who are the residents, workers, students and visitors in your community? And how can you connect with people who are very different from the make-up of your existing congregation? Firstly, it begins with an exercise of rediscovery - watching and listening with new eyes and ears. 

Read this engaging article entitled, "Radical Welcome: Embracing the Other," by Rev. Stephanie Spellers, Minister for Radical Welcome at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston.


     Radical hospitality is simple and effective when we host guests in our church. It also has to be very intentional, especially in terms of building relationships with newcomers. There are ALWAYS steps we can take to improve our welcoming. Read the article below from the Episcopal Church Foundation Vestry Papers, called "At the End of the Day," by Mary Parmer, with the Newcomer Ministry Project in the Diocese of Texas.


     “The sermon or homily is an integral part of the Proclamation of the Word,” say the authors of the Book of Alternative Services. “It is the application of the word of God to the pastoral needs of a particular community at a particular time and place” (BAS page 175). That is much easier said than done.


Many of our lay and clergy leaders find writing and presenting the message at a public worship time a difficult task. How does one take these ancient sacred texts and bring them alive for today’s congregation?  For some practical tips, read Charley Reeb’s article , “The Secret to Great Preaching,” posted on the website for the Lewis Centre for Church Leadership.


     “God keep our land, glorious and free!” It’s a very special year in our nation and churches can offer spiritual perspective to Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations too. Here are a couple of websites below that may provide some inspiration and ideas for your own congregation’s involvement.

Book of Alternative Services – page 412 – Canada Day, July 1

re: Worship – National Prayers Index

Rockburn Presbyterian Church, Rockburn, Quebec

 Government of Canada – 150 site

 Canada 150 & Me – teaching and activity ideas

 2017 KAIROS wish list

 June 21 – National Aboriginal Day of Prayer – Anglican Church of Canada

 This Far by Faith – Canada 150  (some interesting history videos)


      Learning to be more comfortable praying out loud as a group can help members grow in their faith and devotion. A common request by parishioners is to develop their prayer-life and to discover new approaches to deeper communicating with God while in community. Here’s an article by Brad Himes, that offers some ideas on how to encourage and practice praying out loud without a service book or written prayer.


Read, “Teach Your Small Group to Be Comfortable with Group Prayer - Prayer methods that can help anyone pray out loud with ease.”


      Create some excitement in your congregation with a fresh idea for Pentecost. We decorate for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, this springtime feast day (June 4th) is another opportunity to celebrate and do something special.  Here are some links for ideas related to decorating, children’s activities, and Pentecost prayers.

Building Faith - 7 Helpful Posts

Building Faith – Decorating for Pentecost

Celebrating Pentecost 2013 - Kids Friendly (23 page PDF)


      Father’s Day is June 18th – time to plan something special for the dads in your congregations. These family days are celebrated in most of our neighbourhood homes, why not make a connection on Sunday morning? Here are some links for worship ideas related to Father’s Day.

The Church of England - Resources for Father's Day

re:Worship - Resources and reflections for worship planners and leaders

Father’s Day Ideas for Church


      Taco Bell Church, a laundry ministry, theology in a pub and worship at a boxing gym. One priest in Houston is reaching people who would never attend a traditional Sunday service in innovative ways. The Rev. Sean Steele, recently launched St. Isidore Episcopal, a “church without walls” with a primary goal of small group discipleship and community service. Read more about this fascinating and effective missional approach in the article, "Church has no walls but many doors, accessible to seekers and skeptics”, by Andrew Kragie, for Faith & Leadership website (Duke University).


      It's NHL playoff time and anyone who watches knows the importance of a good referee. The same goes for church conflict. When troubles arise in a congregation, any member of a church has the ability to react, respond, and help manage it like a wise referee.  Read about some practical steps to cool and resolve conflict from a dedicated sports player and Episcopal priest, Scott Petersen. His article is entitled,"Conflict Resolution from a Referee."


      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.


      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..


      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)”



      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.


      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.


      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.,%202017&maropost_id=742406741&mpweb=256-3025670-742406741



      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).


      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.”


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.


      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.



      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.


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.


      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.”


      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.


      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.


      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.)


      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.”


      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.”

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