Increasing Spiritual Vitality: RenewalWorks

In 2012, Clarence Langdon helped facilitate a pilot project in which twelve congregations in the Diocese of Chicago engaged a process called Episcopal Spiritual Life Renewal (ESLR) to assess the spiritual vitality of their members and the capacity of the church to challenge and support people in spiritual growth.

This initiative, now a ministry of Forward Movement known as RenewalWorks, reflects over a decade of in-depth research—through the eyes and hearts of congregants—to fully understand spiritual formation. Beliefs, motivations, practices, catalysts and barriers were studied in over 1,600 denominational and nondenominational churches. Over 300,000 parishioners participated. The insights were clear and compelling: for healthy and growing churches, its individual congregants must be healthy and growing.

The research uncovered what really makes a difference in the spiritual vitality of congregations: core beliefs that guide decisions, catalytic church activities, the basis to develop and strengthen personal spiritual practices, and the importance of a rich and supporting community committed to service. Plus, by studying the healthiest churches, the key best practice principles were defined and measured over time. Focusing on what makes a difference matters.

ESLR/RenewalWorks focuses congregations on two essential questions:

1. What is the spiritual health of your congregants?
2. What is your church’s role in growing disciples?

Building Spiritual Vitality in Congregations: RenewalWorks