Real change in a congregation almost always begins at the grass-roots level, with God at work in the hearts of individual members. Sometimes moving forward begins with just getting a conversation started. In these conversations members begin to ask themselves and each other questions such as:
1.Which of the following activities is most important in our congregation: Worship, taking care of each other, or outreach?
2.What’s happening in our church that our kids are telling their friends about? That our members are telling their friends about?
3.If you surveyed our community, what would the residents say about our congregation? Have they met Jesus because of our ministries?
4.If we ask our members, “What is God calling this congregation to be and do?” would they answer with a united voice?
When the answers to these questions suggest that things could be different or better, there is almost always a need to return to the source of our inspiration and strength through a time of abiding. This is a time where a congregation wants to seek the answers to the questions, “Who and What is God calling us to be at this time, in this place.” The renewal team has carefully selected a group of programs and studies that can prepare a congregation to look to the future. These “tools” can be effectively used by congregations of any size, but they can be easily adapted for use in smaller congregations with very little cost or effort.
The following Suggested Approach can be used with any of the attached tools:
• Form a Planning Team to select the study, adapt it for use by your congregation and plan the best approach for the congregation to use it.
• Develop Discussion Questions or make use of the ones provided with the study. The depth of these studies is found in sharing how God is using them as a vehicle to speak to different people in different ways.
• Make it special. This is not just another Bible study or small group study. Ask God to make it something special for the congregation and expect that he will.
• Use Publicity to generate anticipation and excitement around the upcoming study.
• Set some specific goals for congregational involvement.
• Plan a kick-off event such as a catered meal, an ice cream social, etc.to introduce it to the congregation and outline how you hope God will use this study for the congregation.
• Plan an Event after completion to allow the participants to share what they got out of it using posters, table decorations, or other creative ways. Measure against the goals that were set.
• What’s Next? Where do we go from here? God is just beginning his work. Have your Planning Team seeking God’s answer while the congregation is working.
• Resources are available from the Synod in the form of grants to assist congregations in covering the costs, trained coaches from the Renewal Team or companions from the Forward Together program.
• Synod Contacts: John Mocko [JMocko@nclutheran.org ] or John Coffey [firstname.lastname@example.org ]