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.
The Institute for Vital Ministry – Companions for your journey.
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 –
Rev. Dr. Ken G. Crawford
Ash Wednesday and Lent
the Spiritual Reset Button for your life.
Secular 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.
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.