Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
As we work together to revitalize our churches to grow the Jesus Movement, one of our primary Strategic Plan goals is to “become a spiritual home for our children and grandchildren.” We’ve been active on a number of fronts in 2023 in supporting that vision.
A major part of our focus has been on reaching rising generations. This effort kicked off with the Diocesan Convention Friday night event, Listening to Rising Generations , where we heard powerful testimonials from four young adults of the diocese and Mark Yaconelli cast a vision of what’s possible when elders take the time to make genuine connections with the youth and young adults in our communities (watch the video). We have also invited congregations to read the book, Growing Young, which shares research about churches that attract and support young people and the practices that facilitate that work. We hope to have a cohort of churches that embark on a learning journey of Growing Young with coaches from the Fuller Youth Institute.
A key part of this revitalization effort will beto launch/relaunch three worshiping congregations, and we have begun laying the groundwork for this work for the years to come by identifying possible geographic areas and leaders interested in this work. ACS Technologies is assisting us, beginning with a demographic MissionInsite study, to help us discern areas with the most potential to reach rising generations.
Another important piece of our revitalization work is being done by the Task Force on Black Ministries. Formed following the adoption of a resolution at Diocesan Convention, the Task Force is called to identify recommendations to enhance, revitalize, and empower Black churches and Black parishioners in the Diocese of Washington. The Task Force will report its findings and recommendations to the diocese in September.
The first cohort of 12 congregations completed Year One of the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative–our flagship revitalization program. In Year Two, they will begin to address specific strategic goals. This fall, a second cohort of 12 congregations will begin their journey, focusing on getting into their neighborhoods and reconnecting with their mission to discover where God is leading them. Throughout the initiative, the activities that participating congregations engage in are being offered to all the congregations in the diocese, multiplying the impact of the initiative throughout our diocese.
The Seven Vital Signs of Parish Health continue to be the foundation of our vitality work. The signs ground parish visitations, transition work, the Tending our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative, and the work of congregations in Canon 54. Earlier this year, an Introduction to the Vital Signs course was launched through the School for Christian Faith and Leadership.
Join the work of revitalization with a July 30th workshop — Connecting with your Community — an opportunity to practice going out and interacting with those outside our church wall.
The Rev. Dr. Anne-Marie Jeffery
Canon for Congregational Vitality