BY REV. REBECCA CRAVER |
Throughout my years in congregational ministry, I have heard people say that they wish there was a manual we could follow to get the results we hope for. Whether we are looking for the “right” way to share the gospel message with a neighbor, a way to grow worship attendance as a measure of people’s commitment to their own Christian discipleship, how to raise our children in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, or the myriad other goals we work towards in our congregations and communities of faith—there doesn’t seem to be a one size fits all solution. Could that be part of our problem? Why isn’t there a one size fits all answer? Do we spend a lot of our time looking for the whole answer so that we miss opportunities to try smaller ideas that address pieces of the challenges we are facing?
I have read lots of books that outline stories of congregations who went through a process that resulted in some new way of being. Those books are great for ideas and inspiration, but almost all of them include the caveat that this is not a step by step manual for you to follow. They are examples… stories that can help you recognize the kinds of things that happen, when through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, communities are transformed.
So why are books like this helpful, even if they don’t include a blueprint for us to follow? They show us how one community, during a certain period of time, learned something new and put it into practice. We can learn to recognize the signs of growth, learning and hope so that we will know them when they crop up in the midst of our own congregations. (Spoiler Alert: Those seeds of hope are already taking hold where you are).
It doesn’t need to be a book, we can learn from each other’s stories too.
Consider the ways things happened early during the pandemic. No one knew what to do, so we started sharing ideas, resources and stories about the things that we were learning. In real time we found out that we could do more than we had at first imagined.
- We learned that creativity can be exhausting, which led to conversations about finding balance as we innovated.
- We learned that there were different ways to provide access to our congregational witness through worship, bible studies, prayer circles, game nights, and more.
- We learned to ask for help.
- We learned that others were glad to share their learnings with us.
- We learned how to do more with technology than we ever thought we would need to know.
- We learned what can be done online to great effect and what is more helpful in person.
- We learned that we have different opinions about what can be done online to great effect and what is more helpful in person.
- We learned that we are still learning.
- This list goes on…
Was it that we were all learning so many new things that made the pandemic innovation different or is this kind of opportunity is always available to us, but we didn’t reach out until the pandemic made it necessary for us to do so?
What might happen if we keep asking one another, “What have you learned lately?”
What if we started sharing the sparks of Spirit that are happening in our congregations and talked about what they are teaching us and how they are transforming the way we live in community together?
We are connected and have the ability to share our stories. So what stories would you like to tell about what the Spirit is up to in your life, the life of your congregation, Sunday school class, group of friends, youth group, bible study, etc.? We would love to hear from you and share those stories throughout the network of people throughout the North American Moravian Church!
About the author
As Director of Congregational Development, Rebecca works with congregations and provincial leadership to provide resources and support their ongoing work towards greater health and vitality. She works to cultivate collaborative relationships between and among pastors, congregations, provincial and interprovincial agencies and other partners. Working with communities of faith, her passion for capacity building and innovation have shaped her 15 year career in ordained ministry. She has led communities in reimagining their structures, practices, and traditions as they embrace Jesus’ call, supporting them through organizational change, worship creation, and adult learning curriculum. Rebecca’s evenings and weekends are often spent investing in good conversation over a mocha, making new connections in the community, or delighting in the laughter of her children and spouse. Email Rebecca.