Vital congregations reach out to strengthen the communities where they are located. Different denominations give different names for this ministry, including mission and outreach, home missions, and social ministry. But where do congregations get the strength for mission? How do they retain that strength in the midst of providing food and clothing, mentoring individuals, or advocating community change? How do they keep from burning out? They do it by building capacity.
At First Church, the newly arrived pastor faced a question over whether to continue holding its evening service, which utilizes a rock band, praise songs, and emphasizes casual dress. To foster discussion, the pastor held a class for church leaders titled, “Worship: Changing to Reach a New Generation.” In class, a woman who attends the more traditional morning service raised her hand. “Pastor, I keep hearing people talk about contemporary worship. What exactly does that mean?”
Seminaries and social work programs often ask their students to create a self-care plan. Not only does this send a message about self-care while pursuing a degree, ordination, or certification, it also makes clear that self-care is a life-long commitment for those who serve the church and others.
The church is no stranger to controversy. Chapter 15 of the Book of Acts describes a heated debate among the apostles at a gathering in Jerusalem. Should Gentiles be welcomed as Jesus’ followers or only Jews who kept Moses’ law by getting circumcised? When they resolved the matter, the letter they sent out to the churches acknowledged God’s work in the midst of disagreement: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us,” they wrote, that even non-Jews should be welcomed (Acts 15:28). Yet...
Many people feel called to their work and respond to job demands in ways that reflect a sense of vocation. But do we expect clergy to perform their calling with even greater devotion and sacrifice? Because clergy define their work as sacred, taking care of themselves may always be a lower priority. One writer describes the high cost of sacred work in this way: “if your backdrop is burning bushes and having a child at age ninety, or if it’s bumping into an angel with premarital plans for you . . ...
In the 1950s, a new church start pastor challenged every member to invite two newcomers each month. Members enthusiastically committed to such a plan and the pastor’s wife, feeling a special call to grow the children’s ministry, regularly prayed for new babies to be part of the church’s growth. No one was more surprised than she was when half of the young couples in the congregation became pregnant that year! Although this was not an intentional church growth strategy, growing families primarily...
"The blessing of a caring community will be realized in countless ways." — Debby Kirk
March 2018—Volume 26, Number 3 Copyright @ 2018 by Cynthia Woolever Imagine a company with more than 300,000 small retail outlets, which are locally owned and supported. Their presence is so evenly distributed geographically that every county in the U.S. has one or more outlets—in some cases, even dozens of outlets. Almost all own their facilities and attract millions of volunteers. If such an enterprise existed, it would be widely recognized as a success story of unmatched...
Tim Shapiro, from the Indianapolis Center for Congregations, believes that vibrant congregations exhibit a commitment to increasing congregational capacity. As demands on congregations grow, clergy and laity struggle to “maintain agency over their problems rather than the problems having hold on them.
Serving a church without a written job description is like embarking on a long trip without a road map.