Short Course for Parish Vitality

Short Course for Parish Vitality

Consider taking one or more of the following short-courses as a vestry or leadership team. The first course is a stand-alone introduction to vitality. The final four are meant to be taken in sequence. To take any as a team with private access, please contact The Rev. Emily Snowden, Coordinator for the School.

Introduction to the Vital Signs of Parish Health
Learn about the Seven Vital Signs of Parish Health, including prompts and ideas about engaging the signs more deeply in your congregation. Instructor: Anne-Marie Jeffery (Register here)

We Need Alignment
This short-course overview, based on the Unstuck Process, clarifies for teams that “why” we do ministry comes before the “how”. The materials presented will set the foundation for how your team will be moving through a strategic process that aligns every team and every team member to the work they are called to do and teams will learn the life-cycle of a congregation, vital signs of parish health and the strategic alignment pyramid. Instructor: Mark Meyer (Register here)

We Need to Face Outward
Who is God inviting you to reach out to share Jesus’ liberating, life-giving love both in acts of service and invitations to know and be in relationship with God in community? Learn how to become a congregation that reaches out to neighbors. Instructor: Mark Meyer (Register here)

We Need a Vision
Vision and values are terms often talked about but rarely implemented within parishes. Without vision, congregations tend to look inward and talk (and sometimes bicker) about smaller things. This short course offers an opportunity to develop and cast a vision to be part of something bigger than any of us could do on our own. Instructor: Mark Meyer (Register here)

We Need a Plan
How your team fundamentally operates will have a huge impact on whether your team and your people will accomplish your faith community’s vision plan. Breaking down goals into next steps, equipping your team, and keeping folks’ focused on the vision are all necessary elements for success. This short course covers organizational goals, path of discipleship, and growth engines. Instructor: Mark Meyer (Register here)

Thriving Congregations

Thriving Congregations

In 2020 the Diocese of Washington launched the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations initiative. We have been working with 12 congregations since September and learning more and more about the practices of thriving congregations. We are not alone in such an endeavor. More than 80 institutions across the United States are leading thriving congregations initiatives. Among them is Vibrant Faith, based in Minnesota.

After working with 28 congregations across the country, they have identified these six practices of thriving congregations:

Practice 1: Presence Matters—Thriving follows an increased capacity to be present to God, to one another, and to the world. What is your church already doing to fuel presence in these three targets? What can you subtract from what you’re doing so you can add more presence-practices into your mix?

Practice 2: Look to the Early Church—Yes, our context is completely different. But Churches in the early centuries grew and spread throughout the world because Christians:

  • Loved Jesus above all else,
  • Loved one another well (took care of conflict and took care of the poor), and
  • Made their relationship with God central to their daily lives.

The power of those things hasn’t changed. How can your church focus on intentional relationships even more than you do now?

Practice 3: Listen—We asked our Thriving Congregations churches to listen before they planned. They listened in their community, to the people of their congregation, and online. They asked questions about people’s longings and losses. They used what they heard to plan a faith-formation experiment. What can you do to make listening a regular practice in your ministry?

Practice 4: Focus on Formation—What is shaping the lives and concerns of your people? How can you use those shaping influences as ways to connect people to an everyday relationship with the God who loves them?

Practice 5: Re-Invent—Many of our “ways of doing things” have lost their meaning. Or it might be that what has been meaningful to us is no longer meaningful for others. Often, we get overwhelmed by these realities and think we must come up with whole new ways of being Christian and practicing our faith. In reality, we just need to do what Christians have always done—re-invent ways that will meet the needs of people in today’s world. To use an obvious example, Christians have always practiced hospitality. What does it look like to practice hospitality online?

Practice 6: Experiment—Try one re-invention for four months. Evaluate and tweak. Decide whether to keep at it or give it up for another re-invention that might be more promising. Don’t think of any re-inventions as permanent changes… yet.

Note: These six practices and their description are reprinted from an April 26th, 2022 Vibrant Faith article by Dr. Nancy Going, Director of Research & Resource Development for Vibrant Faith. If you want to learn more about these 6 practices, consider purchasing the recording of the Vibrant Faith Master Class that explores them here.

The School for Chrisitain Faith and Leadership is proud to offer a host of courses, both live and on-demand, to help your congregation thrive. Take a look and join us!

The Rev. Jenifer Gamber
Director of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations

The Vital Signs of Parish Health – On Demand

The Vital Signs of Parish Health – On Demand

Parish Vitality Wheel

The Parish Vitality Wheel

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we hear parishes asking important questions: Where are we? What’s next? How do we move forward from here?

One helpful lens for assessing where it might be most fruitful to invest parish resources is to engage with the Seven Vital Signs of Parish Health. The Vital Signs identify key markers that indicate the relative health of a parish. When used as a diagnostic tool, the vital signs can quickly show what areas of parish life are well-tended – and those that might need increased care and attention.

To help parishes better engage the Vital Signs, the School for Christian Faith and Leadership has developed an “on demand” course led by the Rev. Dr. Anne-Marie Jeffery – An Introduction to the Vital Signs of Parish Health – that parish leaders can access at any time and complete at their own pace. Each Vital Sign is a stand alone module within the course and provides both a deep dive into the various aspects pertaining to that Vital Sign and how work done to improve one area may benefit other Vital Signs. Each module includes a reading, video, and ideas to try.

Because this is self-paced, there is no need to complete “the whole course” before getting started. Simply choose which Vital Sign the parish feels would be most beneficial to focus on, work through the materials and resources in the module for that Vital Sign and begin.

Need a little more guidance before getting started? Contact the Rev. Dr. Anne-Marie Jeffery, Canon for Congregational Vitality.

UPSIDE/DOWN: Preaching Reversal in a Hybrid World during Easter

UPSIDE/DOWN: Preaching Reversal in a Hybrid World during Easter

Join The Rev. Dr. O. Wesley Allen and The Rev. Magrey R. deVega and other celebrated preachers on this three-day online preaching conference focused on preaching the texts of Easter with focus on on preaching to a hybrid congregation.

Hosted jointly by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, this conference is designed to inspire, equip, and empower preachers in more effective and faithful preaching.

March 22-24, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. with breaks throughout the day.

Attendees will gather to learn from presenters in plenaries, hear exemplary preaching, and gather in small moderated preaching groups with the insights of nationally celebrated speakers and preachers. Participants will leave the conference with refined tools for crafting a sermon, tips for delivering sermons to a hybrid congregation, and an Easter sermon ready to go. Hear and learn from celebrated preachers.

Conference faculty include: The Rev. Dr. O. Wesley Allen, The Rev. Magrey R. deVega, The Rev. Dr. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, The Rev. Canon Charles A. Cesaretti and The Rev. Nancy Frausto.

UPSIDE/DOWN: Preaching Reversal in a Hybrid World during Easter

UPSIDE/DOWN: Preaching Reversal in a Hybrid World during Easter

Join The Rev. Dr. O. Wesley Allen and The Rev. Magrey R. deVega and other celebrated preachers on this three-day online preaching conference focused on preaching the texts of Easter with focus on on preaching to a hybrid congregation.

Hosted jointly by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, this conference is designed to inspire, equip, and empower preachers in more effective and faithful preaching.

March 22-24, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. with breaks throughout the day.

Attendees will gather to learn from presenters in plenaries, hear exemplary preaching, and gather in small moderated preaching groups with the insights of nationally celebrated speakers and preachers. Participants will leave the conference with refined tools for crafting a sermon, tips for delivering sermons to a hybrid congregation, and an Easter sermon ready to go. Hear and learn from celebrated preachers.

Conference faculty include: The Rev. Dr. O. Wesley Allen, The Rev. Magrey R. deVega, The Rev. Dr. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, The Rev. Canon Charles A. Cesaretti and The Rev. Nancy Frausto.