May 19, 2021
Disturb us Lord...Five Resources to Move Forward
Every month ECFVP offers resources on a theme. This month we've asked Kate Adams, Senior Consultant at ECF, to choose five resources from Vital Practices to highlight. 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.
Springtime is here – the earth is showing signs of rebirth, resurrection, and regrowth everywhere I look – tender green sprouts, daffodils, and flooding rivers from melting snow. The season of hope and rebirthing! I feel re-energized and excited. Perhaps the essence of spring will help us all move forward from this tumultuous period like no other experienced in our lifetimes. We responded to the pandemic, societal and economic upheavals with resilience, grace, and love. Yet how do we move forward from this destabilization and loss to listen to God’s word now?
At ECF we are engaged in a process of questioning, discerning, and pivoting. We invite you to breathe in deeply the hope of spring and to begin to reimagine and rethink your strategic, missional, and financial direction.
Why now? Years ago, I read Phyllis Tickle’s book entitled The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why which describes the great upheavals that have taken place every 500 years in Christianity. It feels as though we might be in a period of historical transformation now, and perhaps this is an opportunity that we are called as Christians to search deeply for the meaning. It is not about change for the sake of change – but rather creating a vision for real impact on what matters.
If you feel called to start this process, here are some resources from ECF Vital Practices to guide you along your way:
Start your journey by spending an evening with the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Stewardship of Creation. As she discusses in her latest book – The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline and New Hope for Beloved Community which calls us to redefine Church as we know it. Perhaps you will start to notice “cracks” in your own Episcopal community and envision how to reimagine God’s love entering again. For further exploration continue with her resource and tools -- Reflection & Action Guide at www.churchcrackedopen.org or www.churchpublishing.org/churchcrackedopen.
Examine your missional focus with ECF’s webinar entitled Holy Shift: Strategic Thinking for Congregations, Donald Romanik, President of ECF, provides ways congregations can begin to enter intentional conversation, listening, and reflection to facilitate strategic thinking.This will help you practically address the rapid pace of change in the Church and in the world around us today. The process explains strategic thinking vs. strategic planning, mission and vision statements, and goals, strategies, and filters. A powerpoint is provided as well for sharing and group study.
Assess your congregation with ECF’s Congregational Vitality Assessment (CVA), a free diagnostic tool created in a collaborative partnership between FaithX and ECF. It is designed to provide an assessment of the Vitality (how healthy) and Sustainability (whether there are the people, financial, and contextual resources necessary to survive). It can be taken with your leadership group or your entire congregation to engage people in this discovery process. Once completed you will receive a free analysis of your results and suggestions on where and how you can strengthen your vitality and sustainability.
Evaluate the financial and economic realities that presented challenges and opportunities during the pandemic. It was difficult for many to meet operating expenses. COVID-19 had a negative impact on cash flows and new gifts resulting in increased spending policies to support operating budgets. In ECF’s Ministry in a Pandemic Survey 48% of constituents reported the pandemic has negatively impacted their finances. Your finance-related systems will influence how well you can implement your strategic and missional goals. A review of ECF’s Finance Resource Guide will help you to evaluate where you are today. The Guide offers spiritually-grounded financial management practices and principles to see if you need to modify or change any parts of your church administration.
Bring this strategic process together now by developing a Mission-Based Budget that “changes the conversation” from focusing on expenses (scarcity) to God’s mission (abundance). In her article entitled Mission-Based Budgeting: A Loving, Liberating, Life-Giving Process (Part 2), Canon Phyllis Jones, Chief Operating Officer of the Diocese of New Jersey, provides us the tools to accomplish this. This process is further explained in her webinar on March 13, 2019 and how this becomes a powerful tool for culture change. And, consider the idea of developing your mission-based budget as a zero-based budget (ZBB). Regardless of how much money you previously budgeted, ZBB starts from “zero” and analyzes the needs and costs of every function and allocates funds accordingly.