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Vitalized Ministry

I read a lot of material about what makes a church vital, and opinions change depending on culture, denomination, and location.  One study that I read used the early church’s vitalization and growth as a measure of today’s contemporary church.  In particular, the author looked at the writing of Luke found in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:42-47):

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

From this scripture, 10 characteristics are presented for vitalization, of which I’ve contextualized for our own community:

  • biblical teaching – looking to scripture to help shape our common life.
  • quality fellowship – a culture of mutual interdependence and respect.
  • breaking of the bread – our lives grounded in the sacrament of eating and drinking together as one body.
  • steadfast prayer – praying together and individually for the concerns of the world.
  • supernatural awareness – eyes to be able to see the miracles when then happen, and the movement of God in all things and people.
  • authentic community – being together, not just during the great times, but also during the tough times; willingness to “do” community rather than walk away.
  • extravagant generosity – a commitment to giving rather than getting, and being generous with all that we have – time, money, space, companionship…
  • genuine hospitality – having an open heart and an open home that affirms the value of every single person.
  • grateful praise – expressing thanks to God for all that we have and are.
  • spontaneous evangelism – expressing our love of God and church as an overflow of our own vitality and full lives.

When I look across the landscape of our church, I see great signs of vitalization – authentic community that prays, eats, gives thanks, and welcomes others together. I see people who believe that church life increases their own vitality and take seriously the importance of being Christ-like.  I see extravagant generosity and genuine hospitality in the way we open our hearts to others.

We have vitality, and we have momentum.

To build upon all that we’ve already done together, we are living into two very significant happenings:

The Reverend Stephanie Green will be getting up to speed as our Children, Teen, and Family Minister.  Stephanie’s hire is a clear demonstration to your commitment towards being a vital church for all people.  Because of your support, both financial and spiritual, we can now offer a fabulous resource for our whole church.  While Stephanie’s focus will be children, teens and their families, her work will strengthen all of us, and everyone will experience the impact of her ministry.

The second happening is our All Parish Retreat, Being Disciples in the World.  The vestry has put a lot of prayer, thought, and energy into creating a day that will emphasize the points of vitality in our community.  We will have time to sing, pray, and talk about all that energizes us as Christians.  This will be a fabulous day, led by the Reverend Doctor Rob Moss, and supported by the vestry and many helpers.  Please do everything you can to be part of this day, Saturday, October 5.  Together, we will have a blast.

Saint James’ is a community blessed with the gifts of the Spirit, and like the apostles, gifted with many wonders and signs.  May we give thanks to God.

Lori+

Read more articles from our monthly newsletter, “The Window”.