REINVENT YOUR FUTURE






Thriving Congregations        

A Lilly-funded Project to Spark Thriving Cultures                

Tacoma-Seattle Area Cohort              
               

ACTS 2:42-47  |  Life among the Believers

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 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.
DEUTERONOMY 6:4-9  |  The Great Commandment

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem[b] on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Thriving  Congregations  are  invited  to  create  experiments  that  help  .  .  .

1 | Create an inclusive, welcoming, and inviting culture of hospitality where outsiders are treated like insiders.
 RECENT EXPERIMENTS
  • Conduct a hospitality survey.  Follow up with visitors from the past 90 days to learn about their online and in person experiences.
  • Create a parking lot hospitality team that experiment with  greeting guests before and after worship services.
  • Pilot the use of an online hospitality host that greets people who join worship online, posts prayer requests, sermon questions, etc.
  • Experiment with having an online host to welcome and thank people for worshipping; invite people to share prayer requests if desired.
  • Experiment with creating 1-2 minute video announcements to be used during in person and online worship.

2 | Help people build intentional, deep, authentic,  inclusive friendships at church where they care for and encourage others in life and faith.
RECENT EXPERIMENTS
  • Invite online worshippers to join a Zoom meeting group for 15 minutes following each worship service.
  • Post "faith is a verb" 2 minute video clip each week; post on church website and social media sites.
  • Revamp staff and elected leadership team meetings to include time for faith sharing and community-building activities. 
  • Host a 4-week sermon series on "Claiming Your Callings in Life" with discussion resources to be used in meeting, small groups, and household settings.
  • Interview new members and frequent visitors using the How Has God SHAPED You"  form.

3 | Create a candid and caring congregation that addresses difficult issues and what matters in people's lives.
RECENT EXPERIMENTS
  • Create a sermon series called "Called to Connect;"  host short-term small groups to discuss sermon  themes.
  • Pilot an onboarding process to equip paid and elected leaders to engage in crucial conversations.
  • Purchase Crucial Conversations book for 20 paid and lay leaders. Offer in person and online book discussion  opportunities.

4 | Introduce and demonstrate ways that people can talk about and practice faith in their daily lives.
RECENT EXPERIMENTS
  • Practice  faith @ church: Introduce a 3 new prayer/devotional practice (one a month)  for 3 months
  • Practice  faith @ home:  Pilot a family faith sharing training event to equip families to talk about and practice faith at home.
  • Practice  faith online: Share member's personal devotional practices on Facebook and other social meeting sites.
  • Practice  faith on the go:  Pilot using FaithTalk cards for one month with 10 households.

5 | Create opportunities for people within our church to be visible expressions of God's love in our community.
RECENT EXPERIMENTS
  • Hosting all church meetings and events in settings beyond the church for one month; share feedback on the experiences.
  • Conduct a neighborhood survey to learn more about what the church is known for in the community.
  • Invite members to share where they eat, play, and serve in the local community. Create a video summarizing findings.

COHORT Meeting  Agenda  |  Tuesday,  March  22  at  7:00pm

MEETNG AGENDA (March 22 @ 7:00pm)
  • Check-in:   What is a norm that you'd like to reinvent?
  • Check-in:   What are your recent wins and learnings?
  • Question:   What are your next 3 step related to your experiment?
  • Question:   Who is doing each one of your steps?  By when?
  • Question:   What are your plans for using Lilly funds?
NEXT FAITHFUL STEP (S) BY END OF FEBRUARY
  • Create clarity:  Write a 3-5 sentence paragraph describing your experiment.
  • Create movement:  List 2-3 faithful next steps to take by the end of January. 
  • Create accountability:  Identify who will spearhead each experiment.
  • Create support network:  What resources are needed? 
  • Celebrate your wins:  How will you observe and celebrate your progress?

jladoux@vibrantfaith.org   |   Calendly.com/jladoux   |   https://uso2web.zoom.us/j/5412529630 

Sample  Experiments  Related  to  "TC"  Outcomes

|  Build Clear Identity

  • Plan events using  Event Form .
  • Assess web traffic via Analytics.
  • Begin creating ministry descriptions.
  • Discuss The Innovative Church with leaders.
  • Rethink/reinvent church structure.

| Build Faith Practices

  • Use How Has God SHAPED you with newcomers.
  • Use WATER form at meetings with leaders.
  • Use Storyboard to capture people's stories.
  • Post questions on Facebook or Instagram.
  • Start sending 50 thank you cards every month.

3  |  Build Christ-centered Relationships

  • Introduce families to meal time prayers.
  • Read lectionary passage as a family.
  • Invite households to keep a gratitude journal.
  • Encourage members to install Bible app.
  • Create a twice/month Youtube Bible discussion.

4  |  Connect to Community

  • Interview community leaders.
  • Host meetings/events in the community.
  • Visit local congregations online/onsite.
  • Host a walking/biking community prayer tours.
  • Invite city planner to a State of the City event. 

"What does a thriving congregation look like?"

- How might a guest describe a thriving congregation?

Beliefs and Values

Words and Actions

THRIVING COMMUNITIES . . .
  • Exhibit depth and meaning in spiritual, social engagement.
  • Create authentic, caring communities without becoming insular or exclusive.
  • Have clarity of purpose and transparency as to its identity.
  • Involve people in mission based on one's passion, interest, and calling. 
  • View acts of service as invitations rather than obligations.
  • Recognize and celebrate people's spiritual gifts  (inventory?).
  • Have  reverence for sacred story and serve as holy spaces, set apart,
  • Teach spiritual disciplines and demonstrates core practices of the faith.
  • Engage people in small groups that reflect multiple affinities.
  • Views the church as empowerment for, not consumption of, ministry.
  • Help people articulate their faith and invite people into faith-related conversations.
  • View God as being active in the world and seek to align their intentions with God's dreams for the world.
  • Help people share their stories, give voice to their ideas, and draws out people's wisdom.
  • Have an inclusive and abundant mindset that's willing to take risks for the good of the world.

Questions to Consider about Thriving

  • Where are the current disciple-forming strengths in your congregation?
  • Where do you see authentic, deep relationships being built in your congregation?
  • How often does your congregation celebrate? What do they celebrate?
  • How well does your congregation manage conflict?
  • When and where do members discuss their personal faith lives?
  • What is your church known for in the community?
  • In what ways is your church is networked with other local faith communities?
  • How does your congregation express its concern for those who live on the margins of society?
  • In what ways does your church make itself more  visible to people in your community?
  • Describe how your church builds partnerships to address needs in your neighborhood.
WE RELATE
  • We use every event as an opportunity to deepen relationships.
  • Our members/ministry partners initiate connecting/caring for others rather than relying on the pastor.
  • Use every communication platform as a vehicle for sharing stories.
  • Frequently share stories and practices that help people following Jesus. 
  • Equip leaders to serve as spiritual elders who discern God's intentions.
  • Equip people how to discuss difficult issues and name unhelpful behaviors.
  • Give people skills and tools to build friendships with residents and community leaders.
  • Help people to identify ways they can connect with God (up),  with each other (in), and the world (out) in their daily lives.
  • Challenge members/ministry partners to welcome, befriend, and create wow experiences for guests.

WE  PRACTICE
  • We make prayer is more than a "bookend" experience. It's a mindset and way of life.
  • Our corporate prayers are relevant, speak to all ages, and address current issues.
  • We focus on God's abundance, we exude joy,  we express gratitude, and wee celebrate often.
  • We don't just talk about spiritual practices; we demonstrate how to use them in their lives.
  • We suggest paths and next steps for people to grow in faith.
  • Household practices that are easily woven into people's lives are highlighted.

WE SERVE and CONNECT WITH OUR COMMUNITY
  • Recognize and report on changes in the community.
  • Become known for a local service project or community event.
  • Have a plan for being more visible in the community.
  • Are aware of their member's engagement in the community.
  • Have created a contact list/email list of community leaders.
  • Spend time exploring ways they might collaborate with other organizations.
  • Have a visually engaging, outreach-oriented church website.
  • May have a tagline that is memorable and meaningful to local residents.

List  insights,   wonderings,  and  "what  ifs"  about  thriving                       

Insights 

"Leaders need to create a sense of urgency to get people to act now rather than later."
  • Asking people "Is there a reason we do . . ." helps people rethink norms that we've never questioned before.
  • "Covid made us do things we should have done 10 years ago (online worship, online giving, checking in on members, etc.)."
  • "People respond much better when we share with them the WHY rather than just the what. We assumed that people knew why we do what we do and they didn't."
  • "People respond so much better to personal invitations yet we still do broad-based announcements. We do what doesn't work because it's easier . . Why?
  • We don't have a culture of constant improvement because we don't have to margins in our life to reflect and imagine a new way forward."
  • Nobody wants to serve on Council anymore for 3 years?  Why do we keep asking people to do so?  We need new people and fresh perspectives but we make it hard for creative, qualified people to say yes."
  • We rarely terminate programs and activities that only a few people show up for. No wonder people are tired!"
  • We only share stories during our pledge campaign. People seem to like the stories. Maybe we should share stories year-round."

Wonderings

  • Why do we greet people when they come to church but greet and thank them when they leave?
  • Why do we force guests to go to our basement to get a cup of coffee?
  • Why do we share so many announcements that 80% of us could care less about?
  • Why do we feel it's the pastor's job to follow up with recent guests?
  • Why do we only ask young people to be acolytes?  Do we need acolytes?  Do you young want to be acolytes or do we force them to be acolytes?
  • Does our online worship service need to be 60 minutes long like our in person worship service?
  • We have a huge, underutilized building. Who could we care it with?
  • How come we have to wait month to receive meeting minutes?
  • I like having monthly meetings via Zoom. Do we need to go back to meeting in person every month?
  • Should we move more of our meetings and activities to restaurants and public spaces to be more visible in the community?
  • Do we know the many ways our members are actively serving in the community?  How often do we celebrate their community service?
  • Should we be equipping grandparents and god parents to be faith mentors like we're doing with parents?
  • How are were describing a life of faith for our families that they understand and are able to live into? 

What  if . . .

  • We had someone serve as Facebook host when streaming Sunday worship?  
  • We did a sermon recap with questions and posted on Facebook?
  • What if we had a worship consultant evaluate our services?
  • Council members called 3 members a month to "check-in"?
  • We had people assigned by sections of our worship space and building to extend hospitality?
  • We recorded people's life and faith stories so that we could share them with others more than once?
  • We had the pastors create a welcome video and upload it to our home page?
  • We gathered pictures and quotes from our members about why they joined our church?
  • We compiled a list of family mealtime prayers and posted them on our website?
  • Prayed before every vote we took during Council meetings?
  • We set a goal and created a plan to have 75% of our donors give online?
  • We offered giving by text?
  • We send a letter with our quarterly giving statements that shared how people's generosity transformed people's lives? 
  • We invited people into ministry based on their gifts and passions rather the need to fill a slot on one of our committees?
  • We onboarded and equipped all our leaders before and during their terms of service?

Videos Worth Watching