Thriving congregations are lively outposts of “good news.” They are sources of comfort, hope and joy in their communities. They live fully the unique giftedness that God has entrusted to them, and are aware of and respond to the specific needs of the community that surrounds them. And they understand that it is God who unites them in creative, meaning-filled relationships. A thriving congregation may be a two-point parish or single site, in a rural or big city, 150 years old or just 10 years old.
Every congregation experiences vitality differently, because each is a unique body in a specific context – and this truth is the key to vitality. In congregations, as in individuals, God grants the gifts, the relationships, the moments and the tasks – the mission – of vocation.
The Vitality Initiative for Congregations engages committed congregations who, with their leaders and a cohort of other congregations, will:
• assess their vitality initially and in an on-going basis using instruments provided;
• discern their vocation through spiritual, theological, biblical, practical and contextual
• become equipped and strengthened for embracing change as they respond to God’s invitation;
• and engage their communities in risk-taking experimentation.
The Initiative is an eighteen-month intense adventure with monthly online learning sessions and congregational homework assignments. The Cohort, the leadership team from each congregation, will gather in person periodically to share stories, assess learning and network. A trained coach will meet with each leadership team on an on-going basis as they discern and discover new ways to engage in their community through experiments and building relationships. Prayer and spiritual practices will be woven into all phases of our work as we listen for and to the Holy Spirit
This is not a follow-the-directions or how-to program. The Initiative dares congregations to live into their vocation and reflect vitality by cultivating a missional imagination as they address three foundational questions:
+ Who are we?
+ Who are our neighbors?
+ How is God calling us to be church together?
The application is to be completed by the congregation’s leadership team recruited for the Vitality Initiative. The congregation will be best served by a leadership team representative of the whole congregation and community. Team members bring diverse stories, networks, perspectives and experiences. When inviting members to serve on the leadership team consider gifts, passions, gender, ethnicity, experience in the congregation, occupation, networks, economic perspective, family demographics, generational representation (i.e. Silent Generation, Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, Gen Z) and years in the community. The leadership team of five to ten members should include the pastoral leader and at least one member of the council. Leadership team members are expected to commit and actively participate for the duration of the initiative.
Thanks to the generous support of the Immanuel Vision Foundation and the Nebraska Synod we can offer this unique learning opportunity for congregations for $950.The program fee includes eighteen months of online presentations with some of Nebraska Synod’s finest teachers, a trained and certified coach walking with each congregation plus an additional six months of coach support provided as the congregation launches their own unique experiment, vitality assessment tools, prayer and spiritual practice resources, cohort sharing opportunities and storytelling tools.
Applications deadline is June 1, 2021. Selections for the fall 2021 cohort will be announced by June 20. Payment is due July 15, 2021.