Category Archives: stories

Where are all the Millenials?

Look around the sanctuary. What do you see? A few handfuls of children with their parents, a dozen youth and their sponsors, and scores of empty-nesters and retirees. Mostly gray, white or bald heads everywhere you turn.  Now of course there is nothing wrong with having lots of older folks in church. And depending on the community, this might be a sign of real vitality. Clearly, a church adjacent to several active senior living and retirement communities will want to have a vibrant ministry to these neighbors. Unfortunately, many congregations look this way even though they are surrounded by families with children and youth in the adjoining districts. What then?

Where are all the young adults, single or married with children? Who is reaching them, and how? What are these congregations doing (or what are they not doing) that is making a connection. One church consultant has been known to ask congregations, “Are your grandchildren in church?” and when the answer comes back a strong and pain-filled, “No.” He follows by asking, “What would you be willing to do to provide a place for them, where they wanted to be?” “Anything!”

Institute for Vital Ministry exists to connect congregations and leaders facing such challenges with those who are also on the journey, and are having success. We will help you know where to turn, and even facilitate the learning process for you through conferences, on-sites and immersion trips. Practitioners who work with us are excited to share what they know, recognizing that there is always more to learn, and that we are better together.

The ministry you have to offer is inside you. You may just need some help drawing it out and believing that it is worth offering.

I want my life back

He sat in his car, which was parked in front of his office. The voice mail he just received reminded him of the program at his daughter’s elementary school that day, and his son’s basketball game that evening. His day was meetings from 9am till 9pm, with quick breaks for lunch and dinner. Again, he found himself choosing between his commitments to his work, which he recognized as important and valuable, and his family, which he valued beyond measure. “After all,” he thought, “I’m doing all of this for them, aren’t I?”

True, we all have choices to make, and often are faced with far more opportunities than we can possibly entertain. Yet this fellow has built a professional life that he feels is robbing him of time with his wife and children – time he can’t get back. He does not want to continue this way, but also does not know what to change, or how. All he knows is this, “I want my life back.”

Where can you turn when faced with this dilemma? Who has been there before, and can walk with you toward the life you desire, the life you dream of? Contact iVM and let us connect you with someone who can help.

I can’t hear my call

The pastor has celebrated fifteen years of ordained ministry, having served in three congregations, including a student internship during graduate school. Coming out of seminary she was filled with passion and vision for ministry and a love for congregation and community. That was then.

Now, after nearly two decades, she’s not sure where to turn. Somewhere along the way her sense of vocation started to fade away. The things she loved no longer bring her joy. The relationship interactions, sadly, leave her empty and deflated. She desperately wants to love these people and this place, but she’s forgotten how.

Interestingly enough, many of the folks in the congregation seem to feel the same way, not just about the pastor, but about each others. The congregation has a general sense of surface affection that masks a deeper anxiety. They are warm and welcoming to newcomers, but have little energy or inclination for going deeper in relationship or providing lasting hospitality.

Over time, both the pastor and the congregation have lost a sense of hearing God’s voice calling and leading. They want to hear. They remember what it was like to hear. They even remember what they heard. But now, it seems that God has fallen silent. Their theology tells them otherwise; it says that God is now and will continue to speak, to call, to redeem and lead.

So the question comes: How do I/we learn to hear again?

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The Institute for Vital Ministry exists to partner with this pastor AND the participants of this congregation – those who are asking these questions, but don’t know where to turn, and may even be afraid of the answers they might find.

We bring together agencies, institutes, organizations and practitioners to form collaborative partnerships that facilitate contextual learning in a trusted community of companion travelers on the journey of discovery and transformation.

iVM will help you engage, equip, and extend your ever deepening faith out into the community and world around you. Get in touch and let’s learn together.

Who is my neighbor?

A congregation of generous, warm, and loving folks sits in a neighborhood that has changed around it. In decades past many of the congregation’s active participants lived within walking distance, but over time the community transitioned, and now most of the folks in the pews come in from other parts of town. The congregation is also aging, and the members and staff are trying to figure out how to connect with their new neighbors. They say to themselves:

“We don’t know where we fit in the world anymore.”

(To tell the truth, many also don’t make meaningful faith connections with the people in the communities where they now live either. Is that the same problem, or a different but related one?)This congregation has read books and some of the folks have even attended conferences and workshops. They hear lots of great ideas, and get inspired to do amazing things for God. But somehow, when they get back home, they struggle to connect the ideas with where and how they really live. And all that energy and enthusiasm they felt with the hundreds of others who gathered for training – somehow they can’t manage to keep up that level of passion. They feel that they are letting down each other, their neighbors, and God.  The questions come:

  • How do we connect with our community?
  • How do we get to know them?
  • Who do they need us to be here?
  • What is God calling us to do here?
  • What should we do next?

The Institute for Vital Ministry exists to partner with the staff AND participants of this congregation – those who are asking these questions, but don’t know where to turn, and may even be afraid of the answers they might find.

We bring together agencies, institutes, organizations and practitioners to form collaborative partnerships that facilitate contextual learning in a trusted community of companion travelers on the journey of discovery and transformation.

iVM will help you engage, equip, and extend your ever deepening faith out into the community and world around you. Get in touch and let’s learn together.