May 20, 2020

Victor Conrado Shares Five Resources on Equipping Lay Leaders

Every month ECFVP offers five resources on a theme. This month we've asked Victor Conrado, Canon for Congregational Vitality and Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, to share five resources that resonated with him. Please find his choices below. Please share this email with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and this monthly digest.

As canon for Congregational Vitality and Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, I found the need to engage more and more both clergy and lay leaders in congregational development conversations. We approached this conversation from different perspectives. The most common is one of communicating content, theories. We focus on teaching and it is typically the clergy person who leads the conversation. Teaching is relevant, but just about every environment and program that churches have offered in the past were designed to teach people using one-way communication rather than equipping people with the tools and resources they need to engage the changing and challenging reality around them.

We need to help people move from consuming teaching content to engaging a personal, spiritual, and communal journey to respond to our present and future reality. These five Vital Practices articles helped me start this conversation. The different perspectives presented in them showed real experiences and concrete ways to move from teaching to equipping lay leaders. I hope you find them helpful as we try new experiences and models in our congregations.

1. Once again, we are facing a significant transition in our institutional church. Once again, we face the choice of opening up our lives to meet people where they are and to invite them to go deeper. In Virtual Evangelism, Linda Buskirk invites us to do just that. Let us embrace our new reality in a way that can keep us in the conversation with fellow parishioners and our communities at large.

2. In What are you waiting for? Richelle Thompson invites us to reflect on the reality that change comes glacially in most churches, and waiting is part of the process. But she invites us to imagine a waiting that is not passive but active and always open to what God offers to us.

3. Equipping lay leaders to do ministry is more than just giving them the crumbs that fall off the table. It means that we need to think out-of-the-box to respond pastorally and liturgically to changes in full-time and even part-time clergy availability. In Shared Leadership, Beckett Stokes explains some of these ideas.

4. In The Art of Organizing, Francisco Garcia reminds us that organizing is about “providing people with the opportunity to become aware of their capabilities and potential.” When thinking about how to equip our lay leaders with the necessary tools to reengage their communities, it is good to remember that they already have the knowledge and skills that we need to undertake our task.

5. We are aware that not many congregations will continue to exist after COVID-19. We need to help our lay leaders understand their role and leadership is reimagining and reinventing their congregations. In A New Church Begins, Peter Strimer invites us to search for partnerships. We are part of a community, and the community is part of us. We want to encourage and equip our leaders to rethink church, its function, and existence.

The Rev. Canon Victor Conrado serves as the Canon for Congregational Vitality and Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Before being called to this position, he served as Transitional Officer and Associate for Ministries for the Diocese of Chicago. Victor served for six years as Assistant Rector for Latino/Hispanic Language Ministries at St. Mark Episcopal Church, Glen Ellyn, IL. Victor was a Roman Catholic missionary priest for 11 years in Kenya, Africa. He was received into the Episcopal Church in 2011.