February 17, 2021

Haley Bankey Shares Five Resources for Creative and Innovative Discipleship

Every month ECFVP offers five resources on a theme. This month we've asked Haley Bankey, Executive Director for Gathering of Leaders and Program Director for Leadership at ECF to choose five resources from Vital Practices to highlight. Please find her 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.

If nothing else, the pandemic has forced leaders to embrace ministry in new ways. For some this was an easy pivot, but I would say for most, this has been the biggest challenge of our ministerial careers.

As Executive Director for Gathering of Leaders, I have the privilege of supporting a network of some of the most creative and innovative clergy in the Episcopal church who are dedicated to the power of the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28) As our founder, Rt. Rev. Claude Payne wrote, “Evangelism is God’s work, but our responsibility.”

Below I chose articles and resources to help us re-orient our minds to seeking new ways of being church; new ways of making disciples. I also chose some resources that can help a congregation know why they might be struggling to make discipleship a priority. It’s not about relinquishing our traditions, or ignoring our past, but instead going out into the world to reach those who seek to know God’s love and finding Christ in others.

For more inspiring methods and challenging conversations on forming disciples, make sure you’re subscribed to receive ECF’s Vestry Papers. The March and April editions are curated articles from within the Gathering of Leaders’ network that speak to this very topic.

In his brief blog post Oldfields, Newfields, and Balancing Tradition, Rev. Alan Bentrup challenges us with the question, “How can we balance the beauty of our traditions, without becoming traditionalists. And how can we embrace innovation without throwing away our heritage?” Read this before you dive into the other articles to get your brain thinking in a possibly new direction.

When envisioning a hope-filled future for the Episcopal Church, it is full of active, engaged, Christ-loving youth and young adults. Maria Bautista Vargas implores congregations to involve, inspire, and equip young adults, especially young adults of color, as they are the future of our church. Read Reshaping the Table to take a close look at potential gaps in your ministry and missional reach.

Many congregations don’t know how to get from where they are to where they want to be. Do you need to reach deeper into your surrounding neighborhood? Do you have strong leadership to guide the way? Do you have a robust spiritual life? Use the free Congregational Vitality Assessment Tool to see where your congregation is strong (say ‘low hanging fruit’) or to see where your day to day life is inhibiting your ability to make disciples for Christ.

How often do we say we want to try something new, innovate on ministry, or ‘do church differently,’ but find that our efforts fall flat? In her article Satisfied Churches Don’t Change, Rev. Canon Alissa Newton shares insight into why many congregations can’t break away from how they’ve always done things. Are your old patterns holding you back? Do you have a clear vision for what the future can be?

Often the best idea for someone seeking to meet people where they are is to bring Christ and faith into your own passions and hobbies. Rev. Scott Claassen uses his love of the beach and surfing to bring students at the University of California, Santa Barbara into relationship with Christ. Can his article Surfing and Spirituality inspire you to look at your own passions as a way to bring Christ into the world beyond the church doors?