Every living organism goes through a life cycle that transitions from birth through growth, stability, decline and finally death. As a community of faith centered in the promise of resurrection, we hope any parish that may be in some form of decline encounter something that brings about new birth so that the cycle can continue. However, parishes that wait to react until decline is well underway tend to go get “stuck” and it can be more challenging to move to a place of resurrection.
Every congregation can find itself at any stage of the life cycle. Some congregations are growing because they are new; or because the community around them is expanding, or because the parish is going through some type of Spiritual Renewal. Other congregations are seeing a decline in attendance, membership, and giving because the community around them is declining, or there is not a full time clergy person, or for reasons unknown. One of the keys to becoming a healthy, thriving parish, even those who are experiencing growth, is to intentionally find ways of experiencing new birth before the decline is a part of the culture.
The Diocese of Western North Carolina believes every congregation has the potential to become vibrant and vital communities, even those who are experiencing an increase in attendance, can become healthier, stronger communities with an intentional focus on God’s purpose for your parish in the world.
Congregational Vitality Ministry offers two different tracks to help parishes thrive. The first track is for congregations that see themselves as mostly healthy and strong overall, but there may be areas, such as Christian Formation, Youth Ministry, or Stewardship that need some assistance. We invite you to survey this site and use whatever tools or standalone programs that best fit your needs. You can also join our Forums to discuss issues and connect with other parishes that are able to share their experience. For more information and the opportunities of this track, contact The Rev. Dr. Gary Butterworth.
The second track is for all congregations, healthy as well as those struggling, which want to grow spiritually and find a renewed energy around being Church. This track consists more of a process than implementing a few programs. For many congregations, the process may take over a year to complete. Currently several individuals (coaches) are willing to guide a congregation through a journey that begins with the question, “What Is God’s purpose for us in this place and at this time?” The journey will continue through exploring the gifts of your people, looking at your ministries in terms of your new purpose and your people’s gifts, and finding new ways of turning ministries into mission. For more information and the opportunities of this track, contact The Rev. Dr. Gary Butterworth.