How did we get here?
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We are called to “continue” in the practices that lead us toward spiritual growth. As we begin our journey at Trinity, we acknowledge that at times we will wander off, drift backwards, or lose our way. However we also know we will make great leaps, bringing us closer to God, and to God’s people. It is for this reason we undertake our journey.
We’d like to share with you what your RenewalWorks team learned about the characteristics of spiritually vital congregations, and the four “first steps” recommended for Trinity by the Rector, Vestry, and RenewalWorks team. Some of the first steps are already in place. Others are emerging but need development. Some will be new opportunities. We look forward to an exciting fall as we “continue’ on the spiritual journey that began with our baptism.
Principles of a Spiritually Vital Congregation
Based on their extensive spiritual growth research and data from hundreds of congregations, RenewalWorks identifies five Best Practice Principles of spiritually vital congregations as follows:
- The congregation will Embed the Bible in everything it does, recognizing that this is the single most transformational factor for spiritual growth. The Bible is woven throughout the life of the congregation, as it is woven throughout The Book of Common Prayer. Each person is called to discover scripture’s rich meaning for their own spiritual journey.
- The congregation will Get People Moving by demonstrating a commitment to the spiritual journey of every member. The congregation also acknowledges that the journey builds a living, vital, dynamic community. This becomes a part of the community culture.
- The congregation recognizes that The Heart of the Leader is essential for growth. The leader – the rector, and all the wardens, vestry, and staff – must champion spiritual growth as the priority for the parish. Leaders model discipleship and spiritual sustainability. The congregation supports the leaders in their journey.
- The congregation will Create Ownership recognizing that life in the church is not a spectator sport, entertainment, or a product to be consumed. Each member has both freedom, and responsibility to pursue their own spiritual growth. Leaders guide the process, but every parishioner is expected to grow in relationship with God, God’s church, and God’s people.
- The congregation will Pastor the Community giving all members the opportunity to connect faith to service, and to deepen faith through service. This is often a strength for Episcopal communities. As the congregation listens to the voices of the community, participates in interfaith dialogue, and works for justice and peace, spiritual growth deepens.
Trinity’s First Steps in Our Journey of Spiritual Growth
Based on the five Principles of Spiritually Vital Congregations, and guided by information from Trinity’s Spiritual Life Inventory, the RenewalWorks team suggests beginning with a focus on Embed the Bible, Get People Moving, and the Heart of the Leader.
We will, with God’s help:
Ground everything we do at Trinity in scripture, and in prayer
- Begin all gatherings with prayer, and/or a short scripture reading to keep our central focus on the work of God. The Vestry already begins meetings with a brief scripture reflection. Choir rehearsals and preschool board meetings begin with a prayer.
- Provide resources and guidance for this, including a common resource that could be used at all gatherings/meetings.
- Provide opportunities for regular Bible study so that all can grow in knowledge and enjoyment of God’s Word. At present, a class meets on Sunday mornings.
- Communicate lectionary reading for the upcoming weeks, so we can come to church grounded in the scripture for the week or review it after hearing it in church. This is being done in the weekly email.
Explore the Book of Common Prayer
- Offer instructed liturgies, so we can learn about the why and what of how we pray together. Mother Emily conducted instructed Evening Prayer during Lent. Instructed Eucharists will be scheduled as we go forward.
- Continue to use a variety of services from The Book of Common Prayer, so that we experience the richness of our prayer tradition. We used Rite I during Lent this year, and more inclusive language resources in the fall of 2018.
- Provide short-term teaching series (4-6 weeks) on The Book of Common Prayer. Mother Emily offered a brief study during Lent.
- Encourage everyone to have and use a personal copy of The Book of Common Prayer.
Care for the Rector’s spiritual health
- Pray for the rector and church leaders.
- Participate in the life and growth of Trinity by engaging in our own spiritual growth and intentionally showing up for things important to the spiritual growth of the community.
- Learn what makes for a spiritually healthy leader, and regularly ask the Rector and other leaders how we can support them in this.
Create a “Rule of Life”
- A Rule of Life is a simple plan of how to live a spiritual life that we share across the congregation.
Here is one example of a Rule of Life from a Chicago church:
Worship more than you don’t
Seek a deeper understanding of your faith
Serve others in the name, and manner of Jesus
Give as generously as God has given to you
- Make the Rule of Life easy to remember, and applicable to all parishioners, from youngest to oldest.
Please join your Renewal Works team and the Vestry in Trinity’s spiritual journey. This report is accompanied by an invitation into several ways to grow, connect, and rest in God over the summer. Try one of them in your own life, and look for new opportunities, and more ways that Trinity will support you in your own journey coming in the fall.
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A prayer for Guidance, Book of Common Prayer p. 832
Your RenewalWorks Team:
Julie Bathke, Melissa Clemmer, Simone Cochrane, Megan Culbertson, Joan Dighton, Bob Litsinger, Bruce Lovejoy, Bill McBride, Jim Morley, Esther Pearson, Don Smith, Steve Sweet, Cora Williams;
led by Kristina Van Name and Mother Emily Mellott
Keep reading and view the next summary: RENEWAL WORKS: IGNITE YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL GROWTH