January 3, 2011

Happy 2011

In the United States, the start of a new calendar year signals time for reflection and renewal and setting goals. Out with the old! In with the new!

Honoring the New Year’s tradition of evaluation and goal setting, ECF Vital Practices invited church leaders to share ‘healthy practices’ in the areas of mission, formation, leadership, stewardship, and wellness. What best practices might congregations adopt to facilitate the work God is calling them to do in the coming year and beyond? How might these new, healthier practices prepare congregational leaders to meet the challenges presented by the world we live in today? 

Here’s what you’ll find in the January/February 2011 Vestry Papers:

  • Tom Ehrich of Morning Walk Media challenges us to take a hard look at how our approach to ‘being church’ has contributed to the continuing, overall decline in membership, participation, and giving. “The End to ‘Business as Usual’” may be tough to read yet Tom’s six radical operating shifts offer a road map for vestries and other congregational leaders to reverse this decline and reclaim their role as vital members of their communities. 
  • Dorothy Gibson and Barbara Larson of Seattle’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church share their “Let Your Light Shine: Naming and Sharing Your Gifts” program which supports and encourages congregational members to live out their baptismal call seven days a week. Their ‘Gifts Inventory Resource’ offers a way to help individuals indentify their gifts and then link them to areas of service.
  • Episcopal Divinity School professor Bill Kondrath shares a model for understanding and celebrating differences. He offers a three step process to help congregations to move from good intentions to action using exercises from his book God’s Tapestry: Understanding and Celebrating Differences.
  • Closing the Planning Gap” moves from congregational practices to personal practice. Planned giving specialist DF David Farrand of Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit, New Jersey encourages each of us to make 2011 the year we tackle end of life issues such as a writing a will, planning our own funeral services, and specifying medical directives.
  • Sandy Kolb of Fresh Start’s “Healthy Transitions: The Role of Leaders (Part 1)” uses the Exodus story as a model to guide congregations experiencing a change in ordained leadership. She names the difference between ‘change’ and ‘transition’ and offers specific steps congregations can take to help members weather the ‘inward and spiritual’ process of transition beginning with the announcement of the change and continuing until the new rector is firmly established in the life of the congregation. Part 2 of this article will be posted in early February.
  • Resurrection Leadership” tells the story of how St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Waco, Texas was reborn as a both a vital member of the Waco community and as a thriving congregation after closing their 60-year old school. 

Over the next two months, ECF Vital Practices will be adding to this content with additional Vestry Papers articles as well as related Vital Posts, VP Talks, and Tools. We invite you to add to this content by sharing your healthy practices in the Your Turn section and by participating in VP Talks and/or posting comments related to our articles, blog posts, or other content.