One of the four strategic directions in our Diocesan Mission Plan is Congregational Life. Resourcing congregations that they might become (or remain) vital and healthy is a key component of this strategic direction and is the basis for the work of the Congregational Vitality Task Force.
The task force identified four marks that identify vital, sustaining congregations and have added further dimension to what that might mean for different congregations.
Joyful Leadership: A vital congregation has lay and ordained leaders who are committed, motivated, and joy-filled
- Leaders courageously call people into deeper commitment to the Risen Christ
- Laypeople and clergy try new things and take risks, helping each other discern where the Spirit is calling them as a community
- Lay and ordained leaders nurture each other, creating a learning culture that supports the good work of the congregation
- Leaders share power in ways that involve many people, with clear lines of responsibility
Again I will say, rejoice.
Sacramental Hospitality: A vital congregation practices sacramental hospitality by directly connecting our worship of Christ as gathered community with serving Christ in the wider world.
- Preaching gives examples and encouragement for an ever-deeper connection between worship and daily life
- Intercessions during the Sunday liturgy and actions during the week reflect a dynamic connection with the concerns of the world
- Small group bible study deepens participants’ connection to the Gospel
- The same attention and concern is given to outreach as to worship
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:26
Mission in the World: A vital congregation is known beyond its own membership as having a particular mission or gift.
- Church members collaborate with people within the congregation and the wider community through service, crossing traditional boundaries of age, class, race, and language.
- The congregation makes building and grounds available to wider community uses
- The congregation intentionally embraces its strengths, engaging strengths and resources in service to Christ, rather than hiding them under a bushel or safeguarding them for congregation members alone.
You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
Formation in Christ: A vital congregation creates community that leads its members to grow spiritually by becoming more Christ-like
- Individual members can identify a clear or growing sense of mission in their daily lives.
- Respect for diverse gifts is evidenced by the offering a variety of growth opportunities for people of all ages and stages of life
- Both lay and clergy actively assist in identifying gifts and providing opportunities to use gifts
- Every ministry group exists not for itself but for the wider mission of the church. Ministry groups are periodically evaluated against the wider mission.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17