calendar May 15, 2019 in Communications

Vitality Team Offers New Vision

We are church in an environment that is “volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous,” Synod Vitality Team co-chair the Rev. Bryan Penman told the 2019 Synod Assembly.

But by working toward what research has shown are key marks of vital congregations, SEPA congregations can become more connected and relevant in their communities, he said.

The Vitality Team was organized late last year and charged with helping congregations fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) and to help congregations cope with and bring about adaptive change in our current environment, Bishop Patricia A. Davenport told the Assembly.

The life-giving practices for the church include:

  • Inviting and welcoming all
  • Worship in Spirit and Truth
  • Sharing faith and telling stories
  • Promoting healing
  • Showing mercy and doing justice by serving all
  • Practicing radical generosity in all things
  • Growing and connecting leaders
  • Rooting in their community
  • Creating change
  • Grounding in hope, and
  • Embodying God’s presence

Watch the Vitality Team presentation:

The church’s current metrics of attendance and offerings “are not working for where the church needs to go,” Penman said. The hallmarks of vitality offer a different kind of metrics that allow congregations to renew their mission and vitality, whether they gather 30 people or 1300.

A review prior to the 2018 election for bishop showed that 75 percent of SEPA congregations were showing declining attendance, “we as a Synod did not desire to keep it that way,” Penman said. “We desired to do something different.”

Synod leaders reported then that “success” for our Synod would include more growing and thriving congregations, more yoked and fewer at-risk congregations, more focus on diversity and social justice, and a cohesive Christian community working together. “Does that sound like the Beloved Community to you?” Penman asked.