• Honor worshipers as the pilgrims they are this Christmas Eve ✓
    Vital Posts
    Episcopalians love processions. There’s something about the grandeur, of course, especially if such a procession includes all kinds of liturgical accoutrements, but even in a more humble parish church, such as the one in which I serve, a liturgic…
  • Midnight Evangelism ✓
    Vital Posts
    So this will be a short post as we are in the throes of packing and the movers come later this morning – but I had one of those experiences that puts a few things in perspective. At 11:30 in the evening I ran to Walgreen’s to get some last minu…
  • Alternative Questions and the Church
    Vital Posts
    Discussions of crowd size have blanketed the news this past month. Friday’s crowd was small, and Saturday’s crowd was bigger, so we judge the value of these two ideas based solely on audience participation. The Episcopal Church knows a th…
  • Can Episcopalians do multisite church?
    Vital Posts
    “The first significant wave of multisite churches started coming onto the North American church scene roughly two decades ago,” writes Warren Bird, director of research for the Leadership Network, capturing the history of this recent movement. …
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Things to Help Get Ready for Christmas
    Vital Posts
    This month we offer five resources to help your congregation get ready for Christmas. Please share this digest with others in your congregation and invite them to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and this Vital Pract…
  • Be Born in Us: Love of Neighbor in Advent
    Webinars
    During Advent, Christians prepare to receive the mystery of the Incarnation: divine love becomes fully human to heal the world. Throughout the year, churches extend this incarnational love to neighbors near and far through mission and outreach activi…
  • December 2016 Editor’s Letter
    Vital Posts
    What does it mean to communicate in a way that models Christ? How do we share good news with our friends, neighbors and strangers? In this issue of Vestry Papers, we invite you to consider how the sharing of stories can take on many different…
  • God, it’s your Church
    Vestry Papers
    In God It’s your Church, Alfredo Feregrino shares his thoughts on spreading the good news and leaving the rest to God. He reflects on his personal experience of planting the Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Seattle, WA, his dream of a bilingual and …
  • Your Church Needs a Welcome Video
    Vestry Papers
    Church welcome videos are an excellent way to invite newcomers in and share the joys of the parish community. Too often we are held back by budgetary concerns and the lack of time, but there is an answer! In Your Church Needs a Welcome Video, Christ…
  • A Ministry of Invitation
    Vestry Papers
    For many in the Episcopal Church, evangelism continues to be an uncomfortable word. A Ministry of Invitation reimagines evangelism in the context of an invitation to share stories, resources and Good News.
  • Street Performers, Strangers, and Community
    Vital Posts
    My wife and I recently spent a few days of vacation in New Orleans. Jackson Square is one of my favorite places on the planet, largely because of its collective and eclectic group of artists, performers, and tourists. This time I happened upon …
  • November 2016 Editor’s Letter: Tools for Evangelism
    Vital Posts
    Evangelism. Sharing our stories. Being comfortable talking about Jesus and the role faith plays in our lives. Making this easier – and also more difficult – is the array of resources available to almost all of us. At our disposal are tools to m…
  • Inspired by the Mustard Seed
    Vestry Papers
    St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Amenia Union, New York was a parish of 16 when priest Elizabeth Fisher accepted their call 10 years ago. “Inspired by the Mustard Seed” shares the story of a tiny church with a mission to do great things who, by us…
  • Easier Evangelism: So, Tell Me Your Story
    Vital Posts
    Our leading evangelist is not a Baby Boomer with conversational skills honed by the Dale Carnegie school of making friends and influencing people. It is not a latchkey Gen-Xer, earnest to please or a freewheeling Millennial breaking from social med…
  • Bartering for Bands
    Vital Posts
    Music has always been a struggle in our Spanish service at St. Mary’s. As we have slowly built membership in our largely low-income neighborhood, we are not anywhere close to generating the kind of offerings that would fully support the clergy ti…
  • How Do You Share Jesus?
    Vital Posts
    I never knew when it was going to happen. We could be standing in a check-out line at the grocery, or visiting a doctor, or ordering food at a restaurant, and my mom would look right at the clerk/doctor/waitress and say, “A few years ago I le…
  • Love Always Wins
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes, when life hands you lemons, you have a chance to show love. Between Friday night and Saturday morning, someone (or a group of someones) tagged St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church with graffiti. It wasn’t pretty. The doors we…
  • Pray for Pirates
    Vital Posts
    Amid the various back-to-school traditions of churches, one congregation has struck gold. They tap into the community’s strong support for the schools – and particularly for its athletics – by offering yard signs: Pray for a Pirate. Pray for …
  • Turn Toward Love: An Interactive Art Installation
    Vital Posts
    Turn Toward Love, an interactive art installation at Christ Church Cathedral and the Hines Center for Spirituality and Prayer, in Houston,Texas launched Sunday, July 24, 2016 as a response to current events. Isiah Carey on Fox 26 covered it…
  • #PokemonGo, Cultural Phenomena, and Evangelism
    Vital Posts
    This past week you may have noticed herds of people wandering around neighborhoods, staring at their phones, and searching for something. Those somethings were Pokémon, and those people were trying to catch them in the mobile game Pokémon Go. …
  • On July 4th --Take it to the Streets
    Vital Posts
    Editor’s note: With the 4th of July weekend approaching, perhaps this is the year to take a look for opportunities to make your church more visible at your community’s 2017 4th of July celebration.  We have found that when we take “us…
  • When He Heard About Jesus
    Vital Posts
    The first acts of Christian evangelism occurred while Jesus was still with us in human form. For example, consider the centurion in Capernaum, as told in Luke 7. He was a representative of an oppressive force that often terrorized people. Yet he wa…
  • Monday Matters: Yes, it's Friday and...
    Vital Posts
    “After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the har…
  • Are We the Church of Jesus?
    Vital Posts
    “It is not enough that we love God. It is not enough that we love one another. We must also love the world for whom Christ died.” George Bernard Shaw once wrote: “If some enterprising clergyman with a cure for souls in the slums wer…
  • Storytelling as Evangelism
    Webinars
  • Tech Savvy in the Heartland
    Vital Posts
    “We see God in you!” proclaim the people of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon, a small city in rural central Indiana. This “people of prayer uniting in one Spirit” live the Gospel through many ministries rooted in heritage, such as …
  • Marketing the "E" in Episcopal Schools (Lessons for Churches...)
    Vital Posts
    Most schools take great care in how they articulate their educational philosophy and program. Yet many overlook the same when it comes to Episcopal identity. In our experience here at NAES, schools that are clear and forthright about their Episcopa…
  • Not Frozen, Introverted
    Vital Posts
    “Episcopalians: we’re not God’s frozen people. We’re God’s introverted people.” This was said by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, perhaps one of the minority of extroverted Episcopalians, but it nonetheless rang true. I don’t k…
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Church Garden Resources
    Vital Posts
    In the April Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 resources churches can use to start or continue to develop a thriving church garden ministry, with the 5th a resource to help develop year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s eas…
  • From Scratch: Explaining Episcopal
    Vital Posts
    A few times a month for most of the last eight years, I have led a Bible Study at Century Regional Detention Facility, Los Angeles County’s main jail for women. It’s an environment where just about nobody knows what an Episcopalian is. I pass t…
  • The Basics: Mission Development
    Vital Posts
    The healthy church has a fundamental orientation: outward. Leaders don’t ask, “What do our members want?” Instead, they ask, “What does the world around us need?” Leaders understand that a missional mindset is the heart of all church de…
  • Follow-up: St. Paul’s Open Letter to Presiding Bishop Curry
    Vital Posts
    Priest Morris Thompson readily admits that, “All my life I have been afraid of evangelism.” Yet he and his fellow Christians at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Mississippi, decided that they wanted to be part of the Jesus Movement pr…
  • Live Out – Incarnate God’s Good News
    Vital Posts
    Our recent Vestry Papers article urged church leaders to shift their focus from “inside” to “outside,” and from church-sponsored outreach to individuals understanding themselves as “on mission” in their everyday lives. We’ve already o…
  • St. Paul’s Open Letter to Presiding Bishop Curry
    Vital Posts
    On December 13, 2015, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Mississippi, put into action their response to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s reminder that the Episcopal Church is part of the Jesus movement. In January, they wrote an Open Lett…
  • Take Out – Re-Package Your Rituals
    Vital Posts
    Our recent Vestry Papers article urged church leaders to shift their focus from “inside” to “outside,” and from church-sponsored outreach to individuals understanding themselves as “on mission” in their everyday lives. Last week we offe…
  • Ash Wednesday & Lent in Two Minutes
    Vital Posts
    If asked, how do you explain Ash Wednesday and/or Lent to friends? Our friends at Busted Halo are again sharing their video Ash Wednesday & Lent in Two Minutes. 
  • Break Out – Find the Faith-Life connections
    Vital Posts
    Our recent Vestry Papers article
  • February 2016 Editor’s Letter: ‘Reboot’ Your Vestry
    Vital Posts
    Creating a vibrant and vital vestry is an ongoing task. The period following your annual meeting, when newly elected members join the vestry, is a good time to review and renew your congregation’s vision statement and to think about what p…
  • Get the Hell out of Church
    Vestry Papers
    J. Fletcher Lowe and Demi Prentiss share an approach a congregation’s rector and vestry can use to equip members for faithful witness in the world.
  • Spiritual Well-Being for Older Adults
    Vital Posts
    When answering the question, “Who is your target audience?” most church leaders will say young people, or Millennials, or young families, or the unchurched. Very few will say their churches are focusing on people over 75. Yet look at the people…
  • The Data Shows: Invite and They Will Come
    Vital Posts
    Last December, the Acts 8 Movement released a video which could be customized and shared via social media to proclaim the gospel and invite people to worship. After it came out, I posted a tutorial about how to do just that, providing video for…
  • The Wise Guys are Almost There
    Vital Posts
    Tomorrow the Church celebrates Epiphany, the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem to greet and celebrate the birth of Jesus. In a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, the wise men have taken the circuitous route. Throughout the twelve days of Christmas…
  • Focus on Chinese Ministry in the Episcopal Church
    Webinars
    Please note that because the presenters and majority of attendees of this webinar will be on the West Coast of the United States, this webinar is being offered at 7 PM Pacific Time (10 PM ET). If you have experienced demographic change in your churc…
  • Jesus’ Other Names
    Vital Posts
    My 8-year-old daughter and I found ourselves watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood the other day. She was intrigued because there’s a PBS show that is a sort of Mr. Rogers spin-off, and she hadn’t known there was an original. I told her how much …
  • Parachute Drop
    Vital Posts
    What an image: A parachute dropping from the sky towards a new suburb still growing into farmland on the northwest side of Indianapolis. Who is this parachutist so intentionally aiming for this community? It’s a priest! Meet the Gray Lesesn…
  • Following Jesus, Lord of the Church
    Vital Posts
    This past Sunday was a wonderful day for The Episcopal Church. Not only was Michael Curry installed as our new Presiding Bishop, he also preached an awesome sermon in which he laid out a dynamic, exciting charge for The Episcopal Church in years ah…
  • The “Both/And” of Church and Tech
    Vital Posts
    The Episcopal Church just celebrated “Social Media Sunday” -- a time to post and tweet images and messages about church across various social media platforms. As it turned out, our congregation (along with the sister congregation that worships …
  • “It’s Truly a Calling in My Heart”
    Vital Posts
    About the only time I listen to the radio is in the car. And, since I work from home and often walk when running errands, I'm not in the car very often. Which makes me categorize my choice to drive recently as a “God moment.” On the air w…
  • Little Free Library: Practicing Giving and Receiving
    Vital Posts
    You may have seen a Little Free Library or two in your neck of the woods. They are popping up all over the place -- a small creative mode of freecycling that allows strangers and neighbors to share books with one another. They are basically just bo…
  • I'm Excited to See the Potential in the Rural Church
    Vital Posts
    A bivocational Episcopal priest in eastern Kentucky shares his joy at being part of a changing church. It’s a clear morning in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Mist is rising over the rolling hills and limestone fences. Horses graze on the…
  • Tradition versus Traditionalism, Fresh Expressions for Real
    Vital Posts
    “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.” ― Jaroslav Pelikan, "The Vindication of Tradition: The …
  • Millennials: What Do We Know? And… Should We Care?
    Vital Posts
    In the past few months, there has been a lot written about millennials. Namely, what they want, why/why not we should care about their characteristics as a generation, and conflicting information about what the Church should do in light of this inf…
  • Digital Evangelism at General Convention
    Vital Posts
    One of the hot topics at the General Convention is the use of social media in communication and evangelism. Discussion around a resolution to support digital evangelism (B009) resulted in a significant number of tweets on Twitter (#YesB009 and #B009)…
  • God Helps Us to See
    Vestry Papers
    In ”God Helps Us to See,” Alex Montes-Vela reminds us that it is through our brokenness that we can truly see what God is calling us to do – and be – in the world.
  • Saving the Church: By Our Actions
    Vital Posts
    A few years ago I started to worry a lot about climate change. Reading more about it wasn’t helping (this article in Rolling Stone magazine was particularly motivating). The only thing I could find to assuage some of my worry and anxiety was to f…
  • Social Media Evangelist
    Vital Posts
    We’re Facebook friends. And even at that, I would call us Facebook acquaintances. I don’t know her well, except we greeted each other in the school halls and during field trips. Our kids were in the same grades at the same school before we move…
  • Open Eyes
    Vital Posts
    "...open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us." (From Eucharistic Prayer C, The Book of Common Prayer, page 372) + + + Easter is not confined to a day, to that Sunday morning that falls each year after the full moon that …
  • Ten Things Churches Can Learn From Starbucks
    Vital Posts
    Hint: It’s not about making coffee. Churches could learn a few things from Starbucks… Starbucks is one of those places that, even if you don’t go there, you know it’s the place to go. It’s the number one coffee shop in the Uni…
  • Ain't No Mountain (of Snow) High Enough...
    Vital Posts
    Neither rain nor sleet, neither blizzards nor other weather foes will keep a good church down. With a hat tip to the postal service, church leaders across the Northeast (and now Midwest) are finding ways to gather, despite mountains of snow a…
  • Talking with Visitors
    Vital Posts
    I wish our churches were more like my local hospital. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been to the hospital three times for some routine appointments and tests. Each time, even before I arrived at the right department, I felt warmly welcomed. …
  • Primeras impresiones
    Vestry Papers
    ¿Cómo encontró nuestra iglesia? Si bien visitar una iglesia durante un servicio de culto puede ser una excelente manera de formarse una primera impresión, la realidad es que muchos de nosotros obtenemos nuestra primera impresión de una iglesia m…
  • Witness
    Vital Posts
    Sometime Facebook gets it right, serving as a wonderful vehicle to see how God is working in the world. All too often we think that we don’t have the right words to tell about our faith, we don’t know what to say, or whether we’ll come …
  • November 2014 Editor's Letter: Sharing Our Stories
    Vital Posts
    I love a good story. It’s not uncommon for my husband to turn his head and see tears in my eyes. And a smile on my face. He knows I am reading something that has touched my heart. Stories move us. When I ask workshop participants whether …
  • Weaving Story Into All We Do
    Vestry Papers
    Impressed by the warmth, friendliness, and joy found throughout the Grace-St. Luke’s website, I invited Lucy Owens to share their approach with our readers. In “Weaving Story Into All We Do,” Lucy describes a congregation that recognizes sharin…
  • Newcomer Profiles
    Vestry Papers
    How to capture and share the stories and experiences of newcomers developed by Church of the Redeemer and a back-up plan in case the story falls through.
  • Brides and Pet Blessings
    Vital Posts
    The bride stood just a few feet away from where she sits on Sunday mornings.    Two years ago, she cold-called the church, looking for a place to get married. The priest encouraged her to come on Sunday morning. Check out the church. See if it…
  • Losing Ourselves in a Story
    Vital Posts
    On Sunday, I spent an hour walking around Prospect Park in Brooklyn listening to the new Serial podcast, from This American Life. It’s a gripping story about a murder that will be told over many episodes. As I walked around the park I was totall…
  • Facebook Evangelism: Don't Just "Like"... "Share"!
    Your Turn
    With the enormous popularity of Facebook, we have a great opportunity for "Facebook evangelism." This is possible by using the "Share " option built into Facebook's operating system.
  • Wheat and Weeds
    Vital Posts
    I hate to garden. But I really like the results. A house seems so much warmer with an entry flanked by vibrant flowers. A backyard feels lived in with the turn of a red tomato or the wandering vine of a pumpkin. Not only is gardening a …
  • Looking at Our Language
    Vital Posts
    I love the language of the Episcopal Church, the words that have been honed by the church over generations. At the same time, every now and then I try to read a blog by an Episcopalian and I feel like I’ve got to wade through the jargon to get at…
  • Saying 'Yes' to Trying Something New
    Vital Posts
    This past Sunday was Social Media Sunday, an effort began by Laura Catalano and Carolyn Clement that, judging by my Twitter and Facebook feeds, gained quite a bit of traction. Everyone from my dad (who is an Episcopal priest in Joplin, Missouri) to…
  • #SocialMediaSunday #SpreadingtheWord #GreatJob
    Vital Posts
    What began as an idea from a couple of volunteers caught fire, and Social Media Sunday was a grand success. Laura Catalano, a volunteer webmaster from Missouri, wrote about the idea here. What transpired yesterday, the official “Social Medi…
  • Best Pentecost Present. Ever.
    Vital Posts
    This year for Pentecost, God gave me a basketball team. I don’t usually ask for much for Pentecost. On Christmas and Easter, I will go so far as to ask for a little extra in the way of attendance, a little special spark in the music and the d…
  • Sharing Our Stories
    Tools
    What's holding us back from sharing our faith stories? And, more importantly, what can each of us do to change this?
  • Mom & Pop Religion
    Vital Posts
    A few weeks ago, my computer died. The next day, driving to the Geek Squad, I realized there was a small, locally-owned computer outfit nearby. “I’ll pop in there,” I thought, “and see what they can do.” More than one week later and…
  • Punching Holes in Bushel Baskets
    Vital Posts
    What’s hiding under your basket? When I was a child, I messed up the words to the ever-enduring song, “This Little Light of Mine.” (A confession: I’m a serial offender as a lyric slaughterer. I thought for years that The Bangl…
  • If At First You Don't Succeed
    Vital Posts
    NPR didn’t come calling. But one of the feature stories of yesterday’s “Morning Edition” newscast was about Lent Madness – and by extension, The Episcopal Church. That’s the kind of publicity that no marketing budget can afford. …
  • Getting Ready For Our Easter Guests
    Vital Posts
    Thinking about hospitality and evangelism. At some point, you found your way and were welcomed into your congregation. It is easy to forget, though, what the experience is like to look for a church or be a visitor at a church service. As we m…
  • Reflections on Ashes on the Go 2014
    Vital Posts
    We didn’t go very far with our ashes-on-the-go this year: just the front steps of the church, then the back entrance. We went out at the times when school lets out -- elementary on one side, HeadStart preschool on the other -- joining the multitu…
  • Many Ways to Do Church
    Vital Posts
    Yesterday I went to church three times for a story I am working on for work. At one service I joined others gathered in St. Paul’s, an Episcopal church that is almost three hundred years old, and prayed traditional Episcopal prayers. We also did …
  • Above the Fold
    Vital Posts
    The first time I had a story above the fold, I called my parents, carefully snipped out the article for my scrapbook, and did a little, early-20s celebrating. Above the fold meant something. It’s what people would see when they opened thei…
  • Doing Right by the Books
    Vital Posts
    An Episcopalian in my community is doing amazing work with sustainable gardening, creating an ecovillage in the heart of an urban area of Cincinnati. But that’s a story for another blog. What caught my attention today was an article in the n…
  • Editor's Letter November 2013: Answering Jesus' Call
    Vital Posts
    Go.  Each time we worship in the Episcopal tradition, we are reminded of the Great Commission: You’ve been filled and fed, now go in peace to love and serve the Lord; go forth in the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit. Across our…
  • "From the Community and for the Community"
    Vital Posts
    A former Baptist minister with significant experience and passion for serving minority populations, Eric McIntosh has been invited to develop a grassroots ministry at St. James Episcopal Church in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, which will be “from the…
  • Unpacking the 700,000
    Vital Posts
    According the 2010 parish profile, there are 693,000 people living within three miles of my church. The other thing the parish profile said was that the church hopes to grow. Seven hundred thousand people and a desire to grow? How could we miss?…
  • An Afternoon Caller
    Vital Posts
    I stumbled across the Facebook post and was floored: these kids I remembered playing tag in the back of the church were headed to college. I flashed back to the first day I met them. The family, mom and dad, a son and daughter, visited the st…
  • Gathering Community: Getting Ready for Fall
    Vital Posts
    Brushing Up on Hospitality and Evangelism As we approach the beginning of the program year, this is a great opportunity to brush up on our hospitality and evangelism. How are we welcoming people to our congregations? How can we extend our h…
  • Back to Church Sunday 2.0
    Vital Posts
    There’s a movement. At least among some denominations, there is a coordinated, collaborative effort to invite people to church. They’ve established a designated day, set up a website, and offered some helpful resources. They even ha…
  • Expanding Our Understanding
    Vestry Papers
    Across our church, congregations are exploring new partnerships. Many times these include conversations between Anglo and Latino communities. In “Expanding Our Understanding,” Sam Dessórdi Leite introduces a resource developed in response to the…
  • Create A Video That Inspires Like “The Celtic Service”
    Vital Posts
    Do you have an inspirational story or program that you would like to share with your community? Sarah Bartenstein, Director of Communications, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA gave me the story behind their most recent video, whi…
  • Sharing Faith Dinners
    Vestry Papers
    Unlike other faith traditions, the Episcopal Church is not known as a denomination where members talk easily – or publicly - about their faith. “Sharing Faith Dinners” by Luke Blount and Laura Shaver describes what can happen when groups of Ep…
  • Tips for Instagram Photos and Videos for Churches
    Vital Posts
    With Instagram you have the opportunity tell a beautiful or fun story with a photo or video. Here are my Instagram tips for your church: 1. Learn the Basics Mashable has a good tutorial on getting started with Instagram photos and the Insta…
  • On July 4th--Take it to the Streets
    Vital Posts
    We have found that when we take “us” out to meet folks where they are at—the result is usually a warm reception. Last year, after seeing good responses to offering Ashes on Ash Wednesday at the college campus, and offering Pet Blessings n…
  • Flat-Out Mission
    Vital Posts
    Have you met Flat Stanley? If there’s an early elementary student within your orbit, you’ve probably been asked to include Stanley in a family event, take him on vacation, or share in one of his adventures…and take lots of photos along the wa…
  • Telling Our Stories
    Vital Posts
    My heart breaks a bit every time I hear that a communications position is cut in our church. Sharing our faith through stories is an ancient - and proven - evangelism tool. How can people not value the role of telling our stories not only to oursel…
  • Communicating Inside and Outside
    Vital Posts
    I was in Washington DC this weekend visiting a friend who is a chaplain at a psychiatric hospital. It was Pentecost, and he preached about being understood and understanding each other, as the disciples were able to with the help of the Holy Spirit. …
  • Celebrating Pentecost
    Vital Posts
    What if the Church threw a party and nobody came? Pentecost, one of the church’s great feast days, is on Sunday. It recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and other early followers of Jesus. My childhood church didn’…
  • Ear Evangelism
    Vital Posts
    The story was fascinating. The owner of the efficiency apartment we rented on vacation sat with us on the patio. His accent was delightful but hard for me to place, so I asked about his background. He grew up in South Africa, wealthy an…
  • Communications Toolkit: Evangelism
    Vital Posts
    Communication is evangelism – and I’d like to introduce you to The Public Affairs Toolkit: a collection of resources offered by the Episcopal Church’s office of communication to help church communicators and leaders evangelize the Good News a…
  • Making Pictures Work Double-Time
    Vital Posts
    If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s the value of one with five or six hyperlinks? In my opinion, it’s pretty high. I found a cool new tool to easily transform your photos into interactive, dynamic content for the web. I had…
  • Tell-a-vision
    Vital Posts
    The title, said quickly, sounds suspiciously like one of America's favorite past times: television. At a workshop at the annual Episcopal Communicators conference this week, the presenter talked about his early days in broadcast news. How do I crea…
  • Using New Media to Tell a Story
    Vital Posts
    This past week I helped some of my colleagues at Trinity Wall Street create videos for the Stations of the Cross using Vine (you can see them on Trinity’s twitter feed @trinitywallst). Vine is a fairly new video service that allows you to create …
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told
    Vital Posts
    John and I walked home after church this past Sunday. We were carrying palms, of course - a whole handful of them. Our church was very generous with the amount they handed out this year. The palms were long, slender, and bright green and we found t…
  • A Facebook Movement
    Vital Posts
    We’ve probably all seen the changes in our Facebook feeds. The image of a pink equal sign on a red block popping up as colleagues and friends, high school chums and family members, change their profile picture to the equal sign logo. The Hu…
  • Spring Cleaning
    Vital Posts
    How about some spring cleaning for your congregation? With Easter approaching, we again have the opportunity to welcome many more visitors through our church doors. Consider dusting off those corners, sprucing up your narthex, or tidying up the…
  • Saying No so that You Can Say Yes
    Vital Posts
    Selecting target audiences is a key step in creating a communication – and ministry – plan. In this blog, we talked about methods to identify target audiences. My recommendation is to pick two or three target audience groups. For instance…
  • Exploring Target Audiences
    Vital Posts
    Several years ago, a colleague and I worked with a congregation to develop a communications plan. One of the challenges for the group was to define its target audience. Who were they trying to reach? The easy answer was everyone. They wanted ev…
  • It's Time to Grow!
    Vital Posts
    How can your congregation engage your community? We offer this collection of articles and resources for congregations to look outside and see how you can become a vital part of your community. As winter season winds down, now is a great time to sta…
  • Laundry Love
    Vital Posts
    No, this isn’t a blog about meeting Mr. or Ms. Right at your local Laundromat. It is about God’s love and how people in a growing number of locations are sharing that love by doing someone else’s laundry. …
  • Pray it Forward, FB-style
    Vital Posts
    You’ve probably seen the posts by now about the pay-it-forward movement on Facebook. “The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime in the next year, a gift - perhaps a handmade item, some baked goods, a c…
  • Traditions
    Vital Posts
    When we married, my husband suggested we have a themed Christmas tree. He liked silver and blues, maybe round globes and icicles. I quickly disabused him of that notion. Decorating the Christmas tree was a rich tradition in our house, wit…
  • Advent: Taking it to the Streets
    Vital Posts
    (But let’s wait until December…) It's nearly December; for weeks now the media – traditional and social – has increasingly ramped up its Christmas messaging. With Thanksgiving behind us – and despite having a week plus between turkey …
  • Through the Kitchen Door
    Vital Posts
    Now let us praise famous church kitchens… When I was once a "spiritual but not religious" person living in a Midwestern community of artists, musicians, dumpster diving punks, organic farmers, & aspiring permaculturalists, one of the ways I f…
  • Underneath -- and Beyond -- the Kilt
    Vital Posts
    The teasing started almost as soon as the box arrived. My husband, a strapping 6’3”, would be wearing knee socks. And a kilt. My stern admonition: he must wear something underneath. Yesterday, we participated in our …
  • Social Media’s Power to Share Good News
    Vital Posts
    The Diocese of the Rio Grande invited me here to do a workshop on social media at their just concluded 60th convention. I showed up prepared to do that and a sermon about the power of social media broke out. I started with a prayer for church c…
  • Unity Post-Election
    Vital Posts
    I braced for impact. Less than eight hours after Barack Obama won a second term as president, my father and father-in-law were in the same room. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of my daughter’s science terms this week is combu…
  • 10 Ways to Engage Your Neighborhood
    Vital Posts
    Thanks to the Episcopal Church Foundation, I was given the opportunity to create a video to share some of things we are learning at St. Cyprian’s as we seek to connect with our vibrant urban neighborhood. We hope the tips shared in "10 Ways to E…
  • Unapologetically Episcopalian
    Vital Posts
    From the sad and true files… Overheard: Well, our ____________ doesn’t want us to use the word “Episcopal” in our name….      What I find puzzling is hearing this said in the context of a conversation about branding. Which begs the…
  • What's your sign?
    Vital Posts
    The billboard caught my attention: “The place to be seen is Crestwood Baptist.” I did a double take. To be seen? What about the place to be loved? The place to be in community. The place to grow. I’m not sure what message th…
  • Are You Talking to Me?
    Vital Posts
    “Who are you talking to?” For many of us, it is a question we’ve both been asked and asked of others. I remember my parents asking me this question when I was a child on the phone with friends; as an adult I’ve asked my own family this same…
  • Welcome (Back) to Church
    Vital Posts
    As we approach the beginning of the church's program year, it is a wonderful time to brush up on hospitality and evangelism. We created this collection of articles to help Episcopal congregations do just that. Interested in receiving these "collect…
  • Shake, Rattle, Roll, and Bless
    Vital Posts
    If you can’t beat ‘em, join them. That’s what the people of Grace, Pomeroy decided. Each Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of Harley Davidson motorcycles roll into the small Ohio River town for an annual holiday ride. The revs …
  • Coffee and Prayer Book Study for a Busy Friday
    Your Turn
    Parishioners at the Church of the Nativity make Friday morning an event using simple, on-hand ingredients.
  • Know Your Neighbor?
    Vital Posts
  • Wellness Disconnect
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes the gap between spirituality and organized religion shows up in surprising ways. Last week, while looking through the textbook Principles and Labs for Fitness and Wellness, I came across an extensive discussion about the role of spi…
  • Survey says
    Vital Posts
    Richard Dawson would be proud. The late, cheek-kissing game host probably wished he had a nickel for every time he pronounced, “Survey says” on one of my all-time-favorite shows, Family Feud. (OK, come to think of it, I bet he did have a …
  • Telling Stories
    Vital Posts
    Don’t you get bored saying the same things over and over? My parents asked me that after they attended their first Episcopal worship service. When I was a child, we attended a United Methodist church with a fantastic youth group and tradition…
  • Facebook is a Mission Field
    Vital Posts
    One hundred billion connections are made on Facebook. Every day. Granted, 99 billion of these connections are cute things kids say (mine, of course, are hilarious and witty), snarky digs at Obama or Romney, or updates about how many mil…
  • Mnemonics and Telling Stories
    Vital Posts
    I learned the notes on the treble clef by remembering, “Every good boy does fine.” I can recall the colors of a rainbow by summoning, Roy G. Biv. And when Pluto was still a planet, I relied on the phrase, “My Very Energetic Mother Just Served…
  • Campfire stories and Evangelism
    Vital Posts
    The goo of the marshmallow hadn't begun to seep over the chocolate and graham cracker before the requests started. Tell us a story. A good one. A long one. Scary. But not too scary. Tell us a story. By this time, our last night of a …
  • Outside Our Walls
    Vital Posts
    Yesterday's blog post, "Pulling the Plug," shared the experience of a congregation that made the decision to stop doing things that aren't working. Easy to say, harder to do, especially when you have an expectation of what church is 'supposed' to l…
  • What Gives You Hope?
    Vital Posts
    Pssst. Have you heard? Great things are happening in the Episcopal churches every single day. This weekend I reviewed survey responses from subscribers to ECF Vital Practices. While there was a lot to review, I was particularly struck b…
  • Welcoming Young Adults
    Vital Posts
    Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Chris Yaw’s passion is healthy churches. His ChurchNext ministry puts the spotlight on a diversity of ministries that are flourishing. He records and shares interviews with faith leaders so others can …
  • 15-Minute Marketing: From Picture to Postcard
    Vital Posts
    Be funky. That’s the name of the website I discovered last week that offers a free and fun way to create quick marketing materials. First, find a picture that is compelling. In my situation, I wanted to promote summer camp, so I found a pic…
  • What Happens to Moses?
    Vital Posts
    We had only been dating for a couple of weeks. It was dreary, cold fall day so we decided to spend the afternoon watching TV. Our channel surfing landed on The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston-style. We watched as the Egyptians chased …
  • Confession of a Priest’s Wife
    Vital Posts
    I don’t want to share my friend with church. In January my family moved to a new community and church. The parishioners have been wonderful, and the community has embraced our children. It has been a good transition. But let’s be ho…
  • Cha Cha Slide
    Vital Posts
    It’s time to add the slide to our pew-aerobics repertoire. We all know the rule of real estate: location, location, location. Of course, this is true in the pew as well. Prime spots tend to be about a halfway back, close enough to be …
  • Witness
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes, it’s as if God is showing off. With toes tunneled into the soft, cool sand, I watch the kids ride one wave, then another, their heads thrown back in full laughter, their bodies rocking with the ebb and flow. The sun heats like I …
  • UP2U
    Vital Posts
    On the trip down to Florida, my sister shared some gum. Her church had handed the packets out on Palm Sunday.  The message: it's up to you to invite someone to church on Easter Sunday.  Every time she has offered me a piece of gum, s…
  • Extending the Invitation
    Vital Posts
    Whenever I hear about how hard it is to evangelize in the Episcopal Church, I immediately think about five of my closest friends. These five friends are wonderful people. They’re thoughtful, socially-engaged young adults who bal…
  • Church Smackdown? Not in this Town
    Vital Posts
    What if we didn’t see other Christians as competition but as fellow collaborators in the kingdom of God? It was our church’s turn to host the monthly meeting of the community welcome wagon. But this isn’t a Chamber of Commerce, co…
  • Claiming Your Place
    Vital Posts
    Nancy Davidge is at the Episcopal Communicators conference this week. This morning she attended a workshop on Claiming Places; prompting us to rerun her Claiming Places blog: Last night Bill and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary …
  • Will they know we are Christians?
    Vital Posts
    The man’s displeasure is evident. He grumbles on the walk through the doctor’s office, then rips into the technician. He had an appointment. Other people just walked in. He had to wait 20 minutes. He doesn’t appreciate the lack of servi…
  • The (Written) Word Made Flesh
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes telling the story can feel less important and more removed from the mission field. After all, a story about repairing a roof in Appalachia or cooking meals for the homeless isn’t dirty-hands, feet-on-the-ground ministry. Or is it? A…
  • Are we there yet?
    Vital Posts
    In a series about search engine optimization, we’ve been driving home the importance of preparing your website so that visitors can find you when they Google. The problem now is: they’ve found you but are you ready for guests? Most …
  • At the End of the Day...
    Vestry Papers
    Cultivating new practices of invitation, welcome, and connection that are rooted and grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ will transform our congregations...
  • A Secret Key to Keywords
    Vital Posts
    So we’re agreed: keywords are important. They elevate your website’s standing in rankings on search engines like Google and Yahoo. The exercise of listing keywords helps you hone in on content, and the combination of keywords and search e…
  • Post Christendom to Missional Church
    Vital Posts
    Tom Ehrich and Frank Logue are right. Christendom* ended in the early 1960s (in the USA). My trip to Iceland helped me to see this more clearly. An island, not quite midway between Northern Europe and North America and settled in the 9th centur…
  • Unlocking Keywords
    Vital Posts
    In Google, keywords are key. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing use different methods of determining which websites get top billing when a user enters a search. But despite the varying methods, they all rely heavily on keywords. …
  • Adventures in Technology in a Mom and Pop Store
    Vital Posts
    My parents have a small vintage furniture and collectibles shop in San Antonio, TX. As I’ve written in a prior post, it’s a family affair: I remember my mom starting this business when I was in the fifth grade and then my father jumping in to hel…
  • Will You Give Me a Hand?
    Vital Posts
    Like most people, I like to be helpful, and I’m usually happy, and sometimes flattered, when I’m asked to give someone a hand. Perhaps this is the reason I keep showing up at St. Lydia’s. I arrived one Sunday and I was immediately put to work…
  • Google: Your Way to the Top
    Vital Posts
    Search engine optimization sounds vaguely mechanical and very hard. So I tuned out when folks first started talking to me about it. This is, as you can imagine, not the best way to address a problem. I decided to start learning more abo…
  • Seeing Jesus
    Vital Posts
    As we parked, my daughter whispered: “I hope I make at least one friend today.” My husband and I exchanged the glance that roughly translates into our willingness to cut off an arm so that this could happen. “You will,” we reassur…
  • Nametags: Opposites attract
    Vital Posts
    If you’re still debating the merits of nametags, then this post isn’t for you. I’m a fan. I think nametags are a sign of welcome to visitors, making it easier for them to focus on conversation instead of imprinting names into memory. …
  • Episcopal Dirty Words
    Vital Posts
    I love to do something that really is not typically Episcopal. In fact, in the Episcopal Church it is like a “dirty word.” A study taken ten years ago suggests that half of you will stop reading this article once the subject is revealed! …
  • A New Church Begins
    Vital Posts
    After weeks of praying and planning our vestry and bishop on Tuesday night founded GEORGE: The “Church in the Round” Community Center. With a unanimous vote a new model for ministry was born. Here is a brief description of what has come into be…
  • Making Room
    Vital Posts
    At the time, I didn’t think much about it. But when we left the church two years later, the woman stood up and shared the story.  On her first visit to the church, she was bewildered. It had been a long time since she sat in a pew – and nev…
  • Community and Security
    Vital Posts
    How much is too much? I’m grappling with this question as I re-evaluate our policies about security and the Internet. There are mean, scary people out there, and I want to do my part in protecting people of the diocese. At the same ti…
  • Doing a New Thing
    Vital Posts
    (The next in a series on the new Church in the Round Episcopal mission in the Lake City neighborhood of Seattle.) The most exciting outcome of the design process that we have used to create the Church in the Round has been the impetus to begin …
  • A Clever Social Media Tool
    Vital Posts
    I lie awake at night trying to dream up a way to “Groupon” church marketing and evangelism. Many of you are familiar with Groupon, the Internet company that uses the customer and social media to market their advertisers and to sell coupon…
  • December 2011 Editor's Letter
    Vital Posts
    Advent is the season for preparation and waiting: Watching for signs of God’s presence as we await the birth of Christ. And, as we wait and pray and listen and look, opportunities to heal and reconcile the brokenness in the world appear. For …
  • Partnership in the Round
    Vital Posts
    Monday night we completed the nine-week design process to launch the Church in the Round. It has resulted in a concept of partnership that will invite in three new ministries or programs to join our existing groups and launch five more brand new e…
  • Which Way to Worship
    Vital Posts
    As you may have followed from earlier blogs, we at St. Andrew’s, Seattle, are in the midst of launching a brand new Episcopal mission expression in a northeast neighborhood of Seattle. We inherited a fascinating building whose architecture gave t…
  • Make it Personal
    Vital Posts
    While data and statistics do not tell the full story about the vitality and vibrancy of a denomination, the recent numbers on Episcopal Church membership and Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) are somewhat sobering. Over the past ten years, Episcopal …
  • Broken Windows
    Vital Posts
    Who would think that cleaning up graffiti and cracking down on jaywalkers could lower crime rates? This is the main premise of the broken-windows theory, which posits that a cleaner, more orderly neighborhood is less likely to attract criminals…
  • e-Newsletters: Tips and trends (or How to get people to read your stuff)
    Vital Posts
    I’ve been using electronic newsletters for almost a decade, and, just like any tool of technology, they have changed dramatically over time. In the early days, the newsletters were little more than text sent to bulk e-mail accounts. Our mai…
  • Church in the Round
    Vital Posts
    We have now officially launched our design team to re-establish an Episcopal mission in northeast Seattle that we have named, “Church in the Round.” As you may have read in my earlier blog posts, my parish has been asked to re-open a closed Epi…
  • The Baptist Bus Driver
    Vital Posts
    Herb beckoned for my husband to come to the bus door. My daughter found this book for me, Herb said. It is really amazing. I’m learning all kinds of new things. Have you ever seen a book like this? The words “Holy Scripture”…
  • St. Alban's: Why Grow?
    Vestry Papers
    The second installment of Brent Owens' article on St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Monroe, GA. "After the substantial decline in size, a major focus of St. Alban’s has been on growth."
  • Do All Dogs Go to Heaven?
    Vital Posts
    As if Noah had issued the call, animals of all sorts will descend in the next week upon Episcopal churches throughout the country. Many congregations celebrate the feast of St. Francis with a blessing of the animals. Dogs and cats, of course, a…
  • Old Dogs, New Tricks
    Vital Posts
    I love how God flips our expectations upside down. Sixty years separate the two couples. The first couple is in their 90s, the husband dapper in a tie and white slacks, whose likeness to Bob Barker always requires a double take. He steadies h…
  • What to Do When a Ministry Outlasts a Church?
    Vital Posts
    Editor's Note: Earlier this year, Bishop Rickel (Diocese of Olympia) approached Peter Strimer and the vestry at St. Andrew's to ask if they would consider taking over operations at St. George's Episcopal Church which closed in May.  Peter wrote abo…
  • If You (Re-)build it, Will They Come?
    Vital Posts
    When I began to redesign our diocesan website, I had a few clear goals in mind: Improve navigation. Increase user satisfaction. Update the look and feel. I’ve shared this journey with you on Vital Practices because I think it’s helpful to s…
  • Spiritual but not Religious?
    Vital Posts
    You bore me. That’s the conclusion of a UCC pastor in her superb, pointed commentary. I’m not normally a Facebook re-poster, but her blog was so compelling that I thought it was worth sharing. Who knew that it would ignite? Fr…
  • Back to Church Sunday
    Vital Posts
    Updated 8/15/12: Please note that the 2012 date for Back To Church Sunday is September 16, 2012. I’m not normally a fan of made-up national-something-days. They sometimes seem contrived, like National Uncles who Once Took You Fishing …
  • The Bible Challenge
    Vital Posts
    Note: Check out Marek's Tip Sheet for creating a Bible Challenge in your own congregation. Episcopalians take pride in reading more scripture aloud in church on Sunday than most denominations, but few Episcopalians have read the entire Bib…
  • Tip Sheet on The Bible Challenge
    Your Turn
    Clergy and lay leaders are invited to use these tips to participate in The Bible Challenge and spiritually transform the lives of their church members and increase Biblical knowledge and literacy.
  • Adopt-A-Family Bikes
    Vestry Papers
    About ten years ago, parishioners noted that many families requested bicycles for their children and themselves. For many, bikes served as their primary transportation to school and work.
  • What’s Your Claim to Fame?
    Vital Posts
    How or what is your congregation known for in your community? In my town, the two Episcopal Churches may be best known for their fundraisers. Both St. Michael’s and St. Andrew’s Episcopal churches in Marblehead, Mass have long established f…
  • Drum Roll Please ... a Look at Great Facebook Users
    Vital Posts
    I’ve been a Facebook lurker. I promised in Monday’s blog to show some examples of good Episcopal Facebook pages, so I spent a few hours surfing. The good news is I found a lot of Episcopal churches across the country on Facebook. The …
  • Archbishop LIKES Facebook
    Vital Posts
    Facebook -- or at least social media -- just received the Anglican equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury encouraged the flock to use new means of communication and social media to spread…
  • Ashes to Go: Tips for Liturgical Outreach
    Your Turn
    If God's people aren't in the church on Ash Wednesday, what about taking the church to the people? Tips for an exciting Ash Wednesday outreach ministry, and other liturgical outreach opportunities.
  • Space invaders
    Vital Posts
    The air conditioner died, not with a bang but a whimper. Because of problems getting the parts, it would be a month before the company could install a new unit. With early June temperatures in the 90s – and the priest already prone to sweat…
  • How Does Your (Church) Garden Grow?
    Vital Posts
    I had lunch with Brian Sellers-Petersen of Episcopal Relief and Development and heard about ERD’s Abundant Life Garden Project. We are adapting that program along with the RENEW curriculum from the Lutheran Church for our Back to the Garden: Rene…
  • Building Community -- at a Campground -- and Church
    Vital Posts
    Campers could share a lot with parishioners when it comes to building community. We travel frequently with our children – my son was seven weeks old when I flew to New York City for a business trip. I wasn’t ready to leave him yet, so we …
  • Starting from Scratch
    Vital Posts
    If you were asked to start a new Episcopal Mission from scratch, how would you go about it? What principles or values would you put in place from day one? What first steps would you take in the those first days as you began? Our church may have …
  • Gotta Share
    Vital Posts
    Over the weekend, Bill and I finally watched ‘The Kings Speech.’ In the opening moments, I was reminded of how the advent of radio changed not only the relationship between Great Britain’s royal family and their subjects but also the speed wi…
  • The Cacophony of Children
    Vital Posts
    I’m a firm believer: Children should be seen and heard in church. About eight years ago, we started an Episcopal church in a fast-growing area with few community buildings. Our only option for a meeting site was a small, one-room township h…
  • Undercover Rector: Coffee and Conversation
    Vital Posts
    Previous posts in this series: Undercover Rector Episode II, Undercover Rector: LOL Coffee hour can be a lonely place. In this episode of Undercover Rector, the priest is disguised as a visitor. The greeters, having watched…
  • Losing Your Pew, Gaining ground
    Vital Posts
    Prepare to lose your regular pew this Sunday. Churches are full-to-the-brim on Easter Sunday, with twice-a-year, Christmas-and-Easter guests and first-time visitors feeling inspired to make more of the day than egg hunts and candy-swapping. …
  • Episode II, Undercover Rector: LOL
    Vital Posts
    I saw a post on Facebook the other day about a friend’s father who had taken a turn for the worse. Another friend posted, “Prayers heading your way. LOL.” Wait a minute. I thought LOL meant laughing out loud. I’m guessing (hoping) thi…
  • Undercover Rector
    Vital Posts
    I’d love to see an episode of Undercover Rector. Taking a cue from reality TV, the rectors would cast off the alb, dye their hair and magically  transform into someone unrecognizable. They would visit the church a few times during the week, …
  • Blessing (and welcoming) the bikes
    Vital Posts
    What would you do if a bunch of bicyclists rolled their wheels up to the front of your sanctuary? Would you bless them? For the past 13 years, St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City has welcomed bicyclists for an annual Bless…
  • Online News as Evangelism
    Vital Posts
    Many congregational growth success stories point to becoming more relevant to the neighborhood where your church is located. So many of our struggling congregations are "legacy" parishes where most Sunday worshippers have some historical connection t…
  • The Ides of March, George Clooney, and the Episcopal Church
    Vital Posts
    A new sign hangs in the fellowship hall of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, located in the college town of Oxford, Ohio. “George Clooney ate here.” During the first week of March, cast and crew for a movie, “The Ides of March,” fi…
  • Ashes to Go
    Vital Posts
    Priests in Chicago took to the streets yesterday. For the second year, congregations in the Diocese of Chicago took to the streets on Ash Wednesday, bring the rite of imposition of ashes to the streets, coffee houses, and transit stations. T…
  • Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!
    Vital Posts
    Reason #1,678 why I love the Episcopal Church: We like a good time. Episcopal churches across are gearing up for Mardi Gras. We’ll spend the next six weeks of Lent in prayer and reflection; some will fast, others will make a sacramental c…
  • Beyond the Elevator Speech
    Vital Posts
    The phone call got off to an awkward start. A barely audible, frustrated sigh on the other end of the line suggested I hadn’t really answered her question. But hadn’t I? After a long pause, the priest who’d called to find out what I was doing…
  • The Egg of Fame
    Vital Posts
    Did you catch Lady Gaga’s Red Carpet arrival at this year’s Grammy Awards? If not, you’re probably one of the few Americans who haven’t been talking about her most unique entrance. All Monday, commentators on television, radio and blogs ali…
  • Time to Flip out
    Vital Posts
    Attention, congregations: It’s infomercial time. Want an inexpensive but highly productive way to share the ministry of your church? Check out the Flip (or another handheld camera). The Flip is a plug-and-play video camera with inst…
  • Website tools: Analytics
    Vital Posts
    Question of the day: Is your website used mostly by parishioners or visitors?  I asked the same question recently about our diocesan website to a group of leaders. Their guess: mostly parishioners. They were wrong.
  • Newcomer Incorporation: A Countercultural Activity
    Vestry Papers
    The ministry of welcoming newcomers into our midst is arguably the most important evangelistic activity in which a parish can engage.
  • Commissioning of New Members
    Vestry Papers
    "Our purpose is to commission these persons in the Name of God and of this congregation into membership in Iona-Hope."
  • Talkin’ About My Generation
    Vital Posts
    Around this time last year the Pew Research Center published a major study called Religion Among the Millennials. I downloaded the report and read it the instant the news flashed across my computer screen. My interest comes from the fact that I…
  • A Game of Pick-Up-Sticks
    Vital Posts
    On a dusty shelf I spied one of my favorite childhood games: Pick-up-sticks.  I presented the game to the kids during dinner and explained the premise: Drop the clutch of sticks onto the ground and then pick up one at a time, taking care not to…
  • Balancing the Good News scale
    Vital Posts
    Please take the pencil sketch of your church off the front of your newsletter.  As a communicator for a diocese, I read nearly every newsletter (print and electronic) each month. More than eight years into this ministry, I’ve found that con…
  • Jesus' Birthday Party (Become one in a million!)
    Vital Posts
    I make it a daily practice to keep up with what is happening in the world. In the social media world, Advent is proving to be a ‘content rich time’ with YouTube videos, blogs, articles, and events relating to both Advent and Christmas. On Faceb…
  • New ways of reaching youth
    Vestry Papers
    As we shape and direct the mission of our parishes, young people should be at the front of our agendas.
  • A Thanksgiving Feast - The Religious Kind
    Vital Posts
    Episcopalians corner the market on Thanksgiving. Sure, everyone across the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in some way, from cranberries and turkey dinners to lazy afternoons watching football and parades to studious planning of Black F…
  • Back to basics
    Vital Posts
    The first semester of our experiment ends tonight. My church is a typical county-seat congregation in the foothills of Appalachia. If only Christmas Eve were our typical attendance on Sunday mornings, we’d be a packed 150. Instead, most Sun…
  • And the Gold Goes to ...
    Vital Posts
    E-mail addresses are gold. By Olympic award standards, the bronze medal goes to snail mail addresses. Cell phone numbers snag the silver. But e-mail addresses rise to the top of the podium. Managing the database for a congregation…
  • Church and State
    Vital Posts
    The separation of church and state is a key cornerstone of the U.S. government. At the same time, everyone at my noonday meeting on Tuesday had cast their vote in a local church. This juxtaposition struck me today as we move from one of the most…
  • Finding a Pulse Among the Dead
    Vital Posts
    Halloween is a huge happening at Trinity Church.The whole downtown neighborhood of lower Manhattan is invited to one end of the churchyard for theatricality and games for kids, a costumed cocktail hour for adults at the other end, with a packed-ch…
  • The Email Creation Story
    Vestry Papers
    In the beginning when the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, a wind from the Internet swept over the land and the Internet said
  • Sharing Our Church Through Stories
    Vestry Papers
    As we stepped outside the StoryBooth that chilly Saturday in March, my husband and I knew we had experienced something sacramental.
  • Media, Art and Community
    Vestry Papers
    As members of the community entered the worship space, they saw the image of an eye projected on the wall and heard a voice say, “I see."
  • Tweet if you love Jesus
    Vestry Papers
    Does your church have a Facebook page? Does your rector “tweet”? If not, you are missing an effective, free opportunity for evangelism and church growth, not to mention a vibrant new tool for strengthening your church community.
  • GodSquad met at our house.
    Vital Posts
    The church van picked up the dozen or so students from the elementary school and brought them to our backyard, the kids starving for mid-afternoon snacks and a place to run off their energy.    After several tries to settle the group, we starte…
  • Beginnings
    Fieldwork
    Alex Montes-Vela, priest in the Diocese of Texas shares the story of the birth and growth of St. Mary Magdalene in Manor (pronounced Maynor), Texas.
  • Writing from the 'None' Zone
    Vital Posts
    I’m Peter Strimer, rector of St. Andrew’s, Seattle, and I write this my first blog from my Berkeley/Yale 30th seminary reunion in New Haven. Back in 1976 as a 22-year old first-year student in my first week on campus I heard a report back from …
  • ¡Hola! A warm welcome in Spanish
    Vestry Papers
    Why do Latinos arrive to our doorsteps? What do they find? Why do they stay? What makes Latinos feel welcome in the Episcopal Church?
  • Amp up your hospitality
    Vestry Papers
    It only takes a moment for a guest to get a first impression of your parish.
  • Riding Shotgun
    Vital Posts
    The holy golf bag rode shotgun in the mini-van for a couple of years. Who knew a golf bag could double as a holder for the processional cross and torches? Two Rubbermaid totes rounded out the portable church supplies, one filled with albs and the o…
  • Editor's note
    Vestry Papers
    There are a few myths floating around about small congregations: they reflect the demise of the Church; they are poor; they are troublesome; and they are a minority in the Episcopal Church.
  • Lessons for all Churches from Church Planting
    Webinars
    What lessons from church planting can enrich the ministry of the wider church? People who plant new churches must learn how to interact with the communities around them, how to build and empower a team of lay leaders, and how to get the word out abou…
  • Message Sent / Message Received
    Webinars
    A common challenge for any congregation, large or small, is communications. How can we effectively and efficiently share information with our congregations? Where do we start? In "Message Sent/Message Received" you' will see how linking communication…
  • Evangelism: Mission Impossible?
    Webinars
    The church has a tough time competing for community when today’s world has so many alternatives. Mission and evangelism are inseparable tasks of the church restart if is to have any chance of success. This web conference focuses on the challenges o…
  • Invite*Welcome*Connect: Building a Vital Newcomers
    Webinars
    Inviting, welcoming, and connecting persons in our congregations are vital steps for building healthy, vibrant and growing churches. In this web conference, Mary Parmer offers an overview of best practices, tools, and resources for congregations to d…
  • Reaching the American Born Latino
    Webinars
    Assimilated, English dominant and bicultural Latinos born in this country represent about 65% of the Latino population, not counting those Latino children who have been brought into the country at a very early age. However, most of our evangelistic e…
  • Mission & Evangelism Lessons from South Sudan
    Webinars
    Faithful and Trusting Christians: Mission and Evangelism Lessons from South Sudan: In the last fifty years, the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan has endured two catastrophic civil wars and now ministers in one of the world's poorest countrie…
  • Part 2 of Becoming Local: Wide open spaces
    Webinars
    How might the Spirit be speaking to those of us on the inside of the church through the voices and stories of those beyond our walls? What if the line between insider and outsider is made less clear? ECF Fellow the Rev. Will Scott, Vicar of St. Cypri…
  • Part 1 of Becoming Local: On Every Side
    Webinars
    How might the Spirit be speaking to those of us on the inside of the church through the voices and stories of those beyond our walls? What if the line between insider and outsider is made less clear? ECF Fellow the Rev. Will Scott, Vicar of St. Cypri…
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