Supporting Sunday School

by Richelle Thompson on September 16, 2014

The kick-off for our fall Christian formation program was the most successful in years. Thirty adults sat in folding chairs to discuss Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s profound question, “What is church?” Another forty children from nursery age to senior high gathered in different classrooms for Sunday school.

Of course, numbers for the first Sunday don’t always hold through the fall, but I’m betting the momentum will build rather than slack. We didn’t change the core of the formation program. It’s still fifty minutes of Bible-based lessons. But the newly formed Christian formation commission made several key tweaks. 

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Change, Christian Formation

Slow Down

by Jeremiah Sierra on September 15, 2014

I’m reading a book this week by the priest, theologian, and amateur cook Robert Capon called Supper of the Lamb. It’s part cookbook and part meditation on life and God. There are recipes and there’s a whole chapter devoted to cutting an onion and there are paragraphs sprinkled throughout on our relationship to the creation.

For example:

"Creation exists in its own right, is no parable, no front, no Punch and Judy show in which God plays all the parts, but a vast and vacuous meeting where each thing acts out its nature, shouts I am I, as if no other thing had being. The world exists, not for what it means but for what it is. The purpose of mushrooms is to be mushrooms; wine is to be wine: Things are precious before they are contributory."

In other words (I think), it’s an appreciation of the creation for what it is, not for what it can do for us. It’s a reminder to stop and look closely at things and appreciate them as the gifts they are.

One of the reasons I’m enjoying the book is that sitting with it feels like stepping outside the flow of things happening in my life and in the world. A book with a chapter about peeling an onion is self-consciously not in a hurry.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Discernment, Prayer & Reflection

Jesus is the Reason for this Season, Too

by Greg Syler on September 10, 2014

The return of school and these post-Labor Day days seem to have kicked the whole world – and no less the church – back into program mode. Bible studies and Sunday schools and small groups and senior ministries and other programs are in full swing, or at least they’re getting there. That’s a great thing. But why are we doing this, anyway?

The other day, I was talking with a friend. “I’ve got to tell you something,” she said, “I’ve been going to another church!” I heard genuine excitement in her voice. And I also heard a little anxiety. Previously, she and her family had been active in their local Episcopal church. She first found her way into that congregation through their passion for social justice and the food pantry they run in their economically mixed neighborhood. My friend, you see, has a real passion for justice and even though she was raised in a nominally Christian household, she was never drawn to God or organized religion in her 20s. Volunteering with the food pantry, however, led her to eventually make connections with and ground her life in the worship and fellowship of that congregation. In time, her children were baptized at that parish church.

“What’s the new church?” I asked.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Discernment, Vision & Planning

Stuck in the Middle – And Glad for It

by Richelle Thompson on September 8, 2014

Do your commissions have enough middle managers?

I’ve talked many times about commissions and how they can be vehicles for sharing and expanding leadership in a church. But if the composition isn’t right, then they will most likely flounder.

Diversity in age, gender, and race is important. You also want varying lengths of time as members—longtime, new, and in-between members will offer different viewpoints.

But another key factor in determining the composition of a commission (or vestry, for that matter) is work experience. Commissions need executives, support staff, and stay-at-home moms or dads (which, as an aside, requires some executive-style skills). They also need some middle managers.

Effective middle managers know how to manage up—and manage down. And even though some people hate hearing business language when talking about the church, there is much we can learn from business models so that we can be more effective in our mission and ministry. 

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Communications, Leadership

A Debt Campaign is Never About---Debt!

by Erin Weber-Johnson on September 4, 2014

Part 2 of a series on debt retirement.

In my last blog, I wrote about important questions to ask when considering the impact of debt on your operating budget. The current rule of thumb is that debt services should comprise no more than about 25% of your budget. As yourself:
  • Has your parish’s debt had a negative impact in any way on the church’s ability to meet current operational needs? 
  • Has the church been forced to cut back or restrict ministry resources in order to -service the debt? 
  • Could the money currently being spent to service a debt obligation be re-appropriated to new ministries that could inspire and encourage your church and possibly attract new families? 

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Finance, Stewardship

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