Vitality Report A Church for Others Vitality Team: Dean Collins Phil Hakanson Carey Penney Doug Scheer Elena Shekleton Curtis Wiley February 7th, 2012
Vitality Journey • Veritas & EPIC seminars (Record attendance for denomination) • 40 Days of Vitality • Power of a Whisper • Sermon Series on Churches of Revelation • Series on Spiritual Disciplines, centering prayer, testimonies, vitality moments • Conducted Pulse survey (Nearly 200 responses) • Vitality Team • Created the Relational Covenant • Performed research, interviews • Held several Town Hall meetings (over 100 people attended) • Met biweekly over the last year to pray, discuss findings and develop recommendations • Held Vitality retreat to focus and pray about recommendations
A Structure for Vitality “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” C. S. Lewis "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.“ Matthew 28 – The Message
One main goal is to become a church whose culture emphasizes theimportance of selflessness toward those around us, both outside, and inside the church. Vitality Structure Components Theother main goal is authentic and challenging Christian community, essential to individual growth. Christ-followers must not be complacent about growing through community. Central to achieving both these goals is the willingness of individual members to take up the cross of discipleship.
Emotional health is required for the personal and relational growth needed for a mission- focused church. Vitality Structure Components A stronger focus on building up saints for ministry will improve involvement and a sense of ownership among the laity. Our church must remain relevant in our culture and community. This requires that we are effective in using communication methods utilized by those we want to reach. We will grow in unity as our lives join together pouring our hearts out to God in heartfelt worship and prayer.
Vitality Structure Components Upon the foundation that Christ purposed for the church stands our uniqueness as a Covenant church. The six affirmations inform what we do and who we are. Our own particular history in Manchester, CT and the collective experiences of our members, will season our identity and our future plans. Resting firmly upon our identity and supporting all the pillars is a clear vision that we can act upon and a government structure that is streamlined and effective at decision making and appropriate risk-taking.
Vitality Structure Heat Map (Suggested Focus) We recommend focusing on the areas with the warmer colors first, and those with the cooler colors later. Order of Focus Immediate: “Hot” Next “Warm” Later: “Cool”
Recommendations – “Hot” Topics A Church For Others A Church For Others • Findings • We have a lot consumeristic thinking. • Our culture must shift more toward serving others. • The more mature must help lead the way. • Being others-focused means: • Serving our broader community • Serving humbly • Serving others in our own congregation • Recommendations • Develop evangelism opportunities where we can serve others and simultaneously invite co-workers and friends to serve alongside us. • Simple service ministries to engage simple abilities in ministry. • Create a Community Development Corporation to facilitate community ministry. Cultivate a central focus of dying to self and living for Christ (Rom 12)
Recommendations – “Hot” Topics Healing and Growth Through Authentic Community Healing & Growth Thru Authentic Community • Findings • Community among Christians is vitally important and is the best method for experiencing the life God intends for us. • 20-somethings are an example of a group that we don’t connect well with. • This is the primary vehicle for effective discipleship. • Recommendations • We recommend making strong and frequent statements that Community Life groups are a core value and are the primary way that growth happens at TCC. We need to continually affirm this connectedness with each other through Community Life groups. By increasing connectedness with each other, we will become healthier (more welcoming too, helping newcomers assimilate). • We should develop awareness, strategies and communication to various stage-of-life groups (“20 some-things”/post-college, singles, elderly, etc.). Develop ways to engage people in various life stages to feel welcome and sense belonging, but not pigeon-holed. Authentic community requires more than what can happen on Sunday mornings
Recommendations- “Hot” Topics Commitment to Discipleship • Findings • We need a renewed focus on discipleship at TCC, both individually and culturally (a culture where discipleship is commonly discussed). • Particular focus on young people in between 15 and 30, which is a critical age after adolescence for which the U.S. church-going population has shrunk drastically. • Discipling and mentoring should be accompanied by deep understanding and practice of spiritual disciplines. • Recommendations • Establish an ongoing culture of discipleship for those aged 15 to 30 which will encourage both giving back and provide a reason for 20-somethings to stay connected to the church. • Found a discipleship program within TCC that will foster growth, knowledge and spiritual insight for new Christians. • Formalize mentoring: the practices of the mentor will enrich the experience of the disciple and provide spiritual encouragement for the disciple’s upward, spiraling growth. Commitment to Discipleship Discipleship costs time and demands personal sacrifice. We need to become more disciplined and serious about spiritual formation
Recommendations “Hot” Topics Clear Vision & Efficient Government • Clear vision and efficient government work together • Findings • Lack of a clear vision has led to lack of focus in ministry. • Our current government cluster structure is sub-optimal: • a) Too many people are engaged in church government and some aren’t clear on their role or value. • b) The cluster structure emphasizes specialization rather than promoting all five ministry purposes. • Structure is confusing, decisions slow, overly cautious. • Those passionate about new ministries may have difficulty engaging the support of the church. • Recommendations • Create clear, cogent vision and mission statement for the church so members can align their creativity, and channel their passions accordingly. • Streamline church government. • Create constructs that allow the church to speed decision making, and be prepared to engage in new external-facing ministries (e.g. create a CDC). Clear Vision & Efficient Government A clear vision and timely decisions will help people to align their talents and channel their passions
Recommendations - Warm Strengthening Emotional Health • Findings • Aspects of Trinity could be healthier and need healing. Emotional reliability promotes emotional safety. • Unresolved conflicts leave wounds. • If injuries are ignored, the whole body cannot heal. • When wounds are received at TCC, we have no clear process for conflict resolution. • Recommendations • Identify training on emotional health and emotional intelligence for staff and membership. • Create safe conflict reconciliation and accountability. • Establish emotional safety through emotional stability. • Model emotional maturity to accomplish spiritual maturity. • Community Life groups can incubate this process. Strengthening Emotional Health “ A healthy mind is the perfect companion for a tender heart!”
Recommendations - Warm Cultural Relevance & Visibility • Findings • Internet-based social communities (e.g.Facebook), are as real as physical neighborhoods and represent a missions opportunity. • In order to stay culturally connected we need to ‘speak this language’. For today’s youth especially, communicating through Facebook and Twitter are ingrained in their cultural DNA. • Recommendations • Develop materials in support of “Digital Evangelism” that are made available online or personally delivered as digital ‘tracts’ to present the Gospel of Christ in clear powerful ways. • Broaden access to Trinity’s worship experience/outreach by leveraging the internet, social networking and digital media to increase the reach of worship, teaching and preaching. • Expand Trinity’s response to prayer or service needs by taking advantage of the speed and reach of social networking. • Enhance the reach of Trinity’s Youth Group by creating “Youth Group designed and developed” structures of outreach, evangelism, teaching and support using social media. • Train individuals in how to love others more effectively using these additional tools (how to be a loving Christian on Facebook). Cultural Relevance & Visibility For our message of love and acceptance to reach the lost and hurting it must be delivered it in a way so as to be recognized and heard
Recommendations - Warm Our Identity In the Evangelical Covenant • Findings • We need a stronger understanding of who we are and what makes us unique as a Covenant Church in the larger Christian community. • We have an opportunity to reach people who would like to explore the claims of Jesus, but who may be nervous about or turned off by what they think they know about evangelical churches. • Recommendations • Sermon series on “Covenant Affirmations”. • Church-wide “Discovering Trinity Classes” for members, long-time attendees, as well as newcomers. • Sunday School Class dealing with Covenant history. • Offering Covenant Affirmations a part of our Community Life Curriculum. • Dissemination of Covenant position papers on the Bible, human sexuality, abortion, etc. • Work with existing Evangelical Covenant ministries to broaden our impact. Our Identity in the Evangelical Covenant As Covenant people, we are uniquely positioned to provide effective ministry to the world today
Recommendations - Cool Coaching-focused Pastoral Ministry • Findings • Historically our culture is one where the laity expect staff to do things, rather than to focus on the coaching and building up of others (Eph 4:12). A consumer (client) mentality pervades the church, more than a servant mentality. • Growing into our vision will best be accomplished with an upward spiral of a) leadership setting a vision; b) the saints doing the work of the ministry; c) the saints discovering their gifts/passions; d) the saints eagerly envisioning new ministries; (full cycle back to a) leadership re-forming the vision based on the saints’ newly found gifts and passions. • Recommendations • Clarify staff positions to reflect or add a coaching focus. • Pastors plays a key role both in helping to form and groom the passion individuals have, and also in being aware of these passions when making directional decisions for the body as a whole. Coaching-focused Pastoral Ministry Inspired and enthusiastic church members draw energy from their passion-led ministry
Recommendations - Cool Heartfelt Worship & Prayer • Findings • Trinity is a stable church known for having a strong music program. As we move and grow into a more healthy and missional church we believe that this involves some changes in our worship experience. • Recommendations • Become more intentionally eclectic – broadening the format or style of worship. Incorporate other means of worship (art, spoken/written word, dance, meditation, prayer, etc.) ancient and modern. • Provide more opportunity to include all of the congregation. • Practice awe at the character, wonder, power, love, beauty of God. • Leave more room for the Holy Spirit to breathe; as in the Old Testament the stones for the altar were uncut stones versus finely finished. • Promote a culture of permeating worship where worshiping God is not confined to Sunday morning (or even narrower: music on Sunday morning) but seen in everything we do. Heartfelt Worship and Prayer Variety in worship and spiritual practice will enrich and add fullness to our experience of God
A Structure for Vitality We believe that with God’s help, by prayerfully addressing these areas, we can begin to move from being a stable church, becoming the healthy, missional church God desires us to be. This will take courage and hard work. “So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” - Heb 10:24-25, The Message
Resource List • To learn more about the Vitality process: http://www.covchurch.org/vitality/ • “Introducing Trinity Covenant’s Media Ministry” - Len Smith put together this excellent study which also has more suggestions for further reading. Copies available through the office. • What is a Community Development Corporation? “Community development corporations are non-profit, community-based organizations that anchor capital locally through the development of both residential and commercial property, ranging from affordable housing to developing shopping centers and even owning businesses…No sector of the expanding community wealth-building economy is more celebrated for its success …the CDC movement today has grown to an estimated 4,600 CDCs spread throughout all 50 states…[CDC’s are] typically neighborhood-based, 501(c)3 non-profit corporations, with a board composed of at least one-third community residents, that promote the improvement of the physical and social infrastructures in neighborhoods with populations significantly below the area median income. Many CDCs perform a wide variety of roles, including housing, commercial, and retail development, as well as leading community planning, assisting with community improvement programs (improved lighting, streetscapes, and the like) and providing social services.”http://www.community-wealth.org/strategies/panel/cdcs/index.html • Here a Minneapolis CDC that has many good qualities http://sanctuarycdc.org/index.php/about/ • Here is a West Los Angeles example: http://www.westa.org/ministry_cdc.html • Another in Columbus, Ohio http://www.4allpeople.org/index.html • Peacemakers International http://www.peacemakersinternational.com/about.html • Peter Scazzero’s site on Emotional health: http://EmotionallyHealthy.org