Tag Archives: missional

When do churches grow?

 

What “causes” churches to grow is a different but related question. For the moment, I’m wondering about what else is true concurrently with church growth. Here’s a partial list that comes to mind. What would you add?

  • When they are brand new, and the leadership is focused almost exclusively on reaching new people and inviting them to walk together in life transforming faith. 
  • When they become “the popular thing”  
  • When they have enough name or brand recognition that people are drawn there  
  • When the participants are enthusiastic and motivated to invite neighbors and friends 
  • When the participants have a desire and motivation to see people come to renewing faith in Jesus 
  • When there is a major crisis in the community or world and people “need” church 
  • When God’s Holy Spirit does something in a community, a church, or its leaders. 
  • When they are responding to people’s felt needs. This is initially neutral. Could be need for divorce or grief recovery. Could be need for entertainment and distraction and confirming my biases and prejudices. Either way, it works, at least initially.
  • When they engage people in ways that help them find deep meaning, purpose and healing. 
  • When they are able to engage newcomers into relationship (individually AND in groups) that help them experience hospitality, friendship, service and spiritual growth.
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Vital Ministry Webinar: Rev. Justin Hancock

LINK TO OUR WEBINARS PAGE HERE.

Justin Hancock in chancelWHEN: Thursday, May 26, 1:30 pm CDT

TOPIC: Our guest will be Rev. Justin Hancock, MDiv.

The topic is “Disability, Ministry and The Church – beyond inclusion and accessibility.” Justin will help us explore new ways of understanding disability, how to think and talk about it in the church, and how the disabled and no disabled can form communities of mutuality and reciprocity.

HOW:  We use the Zoom.us platform for our webinars. You can connect via computer, mobile device or phone. Instructions are available here.
(NOTE: you will need to download and install the zoom app, which takes a few minutes, in advance of the 1:30 start time.)

MORE ABOUT REV. HANCOCK:
Justin leads The Julian Way, a ministry to the church and the community that affirms the God-given embodiment of each person and the importance of true community as a means of enabling all people to progress toward their fullness in God. Justin and his wife Lisa (a PHD candidate in systematic theology and disability at SMU) live in intentional Christian community as part of the Missional Wisdom Fndn (MissionalWisdom.com). You can find Justin on Facebook at @TheJulWay – ( https://m.facebook.com/TheJulWay/ )

Hear directly from Justin on his The Julian Way Youtube Channel

Vital Ministry Webinar with Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer

LINK TO OUR WEBINARS PAGE HERE.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 18th, 1:30 pm CDT.

TOPIC: Rev. Dorhauer will share his latest thoughts related to his recent book Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World. Following the presentation we will have time for discussion on a range of topics.

HOW:  We use the Zoom.us platform for our webinars. You can connect via computer, mobile device or phone. Instructions are available here.
(NOTE: you will need to download and install the zoom app, which takes a few minutes, in advance of the 1:30 start time.)

MORE ABOUT JOHN:  In June of 2015, Rev. Dorhauer was elected to serve as General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. He is the author of two books, Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right Is Hijacking Mainstream Religion  and Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World. He also publishes on Huffington Post.

See the book on Amazon now.

Book description from Amazon:

Beyond Resistance is a template for those devoted to the the idea that faith should be just, generous and inspire commitment to the common good. The rise of postmodernity and its influence on the expression of faith are not the cause of religion’s perceived diminishment in capacity, relevance, and impact. To the contrary, both the Institutional Church and those who hold faith in a postmodern key can—and should—be allies in a common cause. What is unfolding is nothing short of a second Reformation, and this Reformation (unlike the previous one) can unite both the change agents and the changing institution as partners on the same playing field. This book addresses the realities faced by what too many have called a dying institution. It is a call to move the institutional church out of a modality of denial and into a perspective of hope; out of a paradigm of scarcity and into a world of possibility with a growing multiplicity of options and allies; out of a time of end-game scenarios where only the fit will survive, and into what James Carse calls an “Infinite Game,” where those who play ensure that the game continues long after they have left the field.

 

Bio from HuffPost:

John grew up Roman Catholic, and spent eight years studying for the priesthood before choosing another pathway. He met and married Mimi, and a few years later attended Eden Seminary and getting ordained into the United Church of Christ. He served two churches in outstate Missouri for 15 years. From there, he served as Associate Conference Minister on staff in Missouri, and then seven years as Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ in the Southwest. In June of 2015, he was elected to serve as General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. He is the author of two books, “Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right Is Hijacking Mainstream Religion:;” and “Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World.” He is the recipient of Eden Seminary’s Shalom Award, given by the student body for a lifetime commitment to peace and justice. He has a Doctoral degree in White Privilege studies, witha focus on how white privilege affects the church. Father of three and grandfather of one, married to Mimi now for 31 years, John finds much joy and pride in and with his family. He is an avid biker and baseball fan.

Download the official Bio from UCC.org.

Author Talk || Morgan Guyton

Friends –

I’m pleased to invite you to our next Author Talks with Rev. Morgan Guyton, author of the just released – How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity . Morgan will talk about the book and why he wrote it. Then there will be opportunity for conversation about the themes of the book.

JUST ADDED:
#1  Online – AuthorTalk via Vital Ministry Webinars

Tuesday, 5/3 @ 5pm CDT.
Follow the instructions here to join the conversation or just listen in.

NOTE: If you join online and you’ve never used Zoom.us, you’ll want to download the Zoom app a few minutes early and navigate to the meeting room.

Then you can return there to listen to the recording in about a week.

 

#2  In Person – Author Talk, Lunch & ConversationMGuytonHowJesusSavesTheWorldFromUs

Guest: Morgan Guyton
When: Wednesday, May 4, Noon
Where: The Mix Coworking –
9125 Diceman Drive, Dallas, TX 75218

 

Morgan blogs on Patheos here at Mercy Not Sacrifice.
You can find him on Facebook @RevMorganGuyton.
And on Twitter @MAGuyton.

Hope you can join us.

See the book on Amazon here.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Christianity has always been about being saved. But today what Christians need saving from most is the toxic understanding of salvation we’ve received through bad theology. The loudest voices in Christianity today sound exactly like the religious authorities who crucified Jesus.

This is a book for Christians who are troubled by what we’ve become and who want Jesus to save us from the toxic behaviors and attitudes we’ve embraced. Each of the 12 chapters proposes an antidote for the toxicity that has infiltrated Christian culture, such as “Worship not Performance, “Temple not Program,” and “Solidarity not Sanctimony.” Each chapter includes thought-provoking discussion questions, perfect for individual or group study.

There are many reasons to lose hope about the state of our world and our church, but Guyton offers one piece of good news: Jesus is saving the world from us, one Christian at a time.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Morgan Guyton is the co-director of the NOLA Wesley United Methodist Campus Center with his wife Cheryl. His first book How Jesus Saves the World From Us: 12 Antidotes for Toxic Christianity is being published by Westminster John Knox Press. He blogs at www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice and has contributed dozens of articles to Red Letter Christians, Huffington Post Religion, Think Christian, Ministry Matters, United Methodist Reporter, and Rethink Church.

 

iVM Summer 2015 Announcement

The Institute for Vital Ministry – Companions for your journey.

Summer 2015

Dear Friend in Faith,

I am writing to ask you to become an early adopter and supporter as I launch my new nonprofit – The Institute for Vital Ministry. Our primary goal is to support and strengthen the work of leaders in congregations and community nonprofits.

Leadership is difficult – particularly in the ministry and nonprofit sectors. Whether staff, volunteer or board member, the turnover and burnout rates are remarkably high. We can change that by giving these leaders the support they need for sustainable vitality in their work.

COMPANIONSHIP IS KEY!

The Institute for Vital Ministry is a platform for transformation.

We are gathering a community of collaborative partners and building a platform of resources to provide leadership and life coaching, individually and in groups, through The Institute for Vital Ministry. Specifically, we provide:

  • Individual, Peer to Peer, and Group Coaching that is self-replicating and self-sustaining – leaders learn to support one another collaboratively.
  • Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Care for those who are under the heaviest burdens or seeking additional clarity.
  • Resources for leaders, including shared stories of struggle, change and transformation, so people don’t feel alone or helpless.

The Institute for Vital Ministry offers all of this and more, to any leader, any person of peace, who promotes individual and community health, well-being and flourishing.

Every $50 raised provides a coaching session or a day of conference, workshop or retreat for a nonprofit leader.

How can you help?

  • I invite you to join me in this work by doing the following:
  • Pray for this ministry and the leaders we seek to serve.
  • Spread the word to others who would be interested in supporting our efforts.
  • Contribute financially with a one time or recurring gift.
  • Contribute online: http://www.iVitalMinistry.com/Support. OR send a check to: Institute for Vital Ministry, c/o Missional Wisdom Fndn, 185 S. Whites Chapel Blvd., Southlake, TX 76092.

Thank you for joining with us in supporting the ministry and mission of Christ in the world. We also want to join with you to support your ministry and mission. Please share your story with us so that together we might discover new ways to serve and thus spread the good news.
Yours in Christ –
Ken
Rev. Dr. Ken G. Crawford

Virtual Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday and Lent
the Spiritual Reset Button for your life.

reset-buttonSecular and religious people have many important things in common. One of those, that is being remembered and honored by Christians today, is the need to experience repentance and forgiveness. Who among us has not fallen short of the moral, ethical or relational standards we set for ourselves, to say nothing of the standards others try to set for us? When I fail to honor the sacredness of friendship and love. When I make a promise that I am unable to keep. When I speak words in anger or fear that assault and wound. When I neglect my duty to nurture and care. When I tear down rather than build up, degrade rather than construct, poison rather than nourish. When my silence supports systems of oppression, particularly when I then gain in the process.

When I do these things, what then? How can I move from this position to a status of restored relationship? What can I offer, what do I need to receive? Who can help?

In my own life, I have found the story of Jesus to be a compelling witness to my own brokenness and frailty and lack, because he shared in it, even to the point of death and fear of the same. For me the greatest pain in my own failures is not that I have committed them, but that I may be unable to experience restoration. What if things can’t be repaired (some can’t)? What if time runs out and I never get to say, “I’m sorry,” and hear, “You are forgiven”? What if… I live not in certainty, but in hope.

I hope that you know where to turn, to whom you can go, to find the help that you need when you face these issues in your own life. I also hope that you are able to extend compassion and mercy to others, not because they deserve it, but because you need it too.

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.