This week two elders and I were privileged to attend an inspiring seminar introducing New Hope Presbytery to the Acts 16:5 Initiative of the Vital Churches Institute. The Initiative is a three-year program of coaching aimed at helping pastors and congregational leaders to grow spiritually themselves as they guide the congregation to do that.
The point of the process is to appreciate and bless the present people and ministries of the congregation while opening our minds and hearts to the future that God has in mind for the congregation. If my congregation and I discern that God is calling us to participate in Acts 16:5, it will be a program of continuing education that members of the congregation and I will undertake together. Acts 16:5 is not a program for “turning your church around,” but an opportunity for coaching in spiritual discernment. It is rooted in prayer and scripture, and recognizes two very important things: first, churches of any size can be vital and faithful; second, there is no one-size-fits-all program. I was impressed that the whole seminar was soaked with prayer. Folks in our flock are longing to go deeper spiritually and to find some way to connect with the community around the church. We have so much to share with the world around us! Will Acts 16:5 help us do this? Time for some more prayer, and some more prayer-soaked conversation.
Check out the Vital Churches Institute website. There are lots of available resources, including a free weekly e-letter of encouragement you can sign up for.
A note to folks in New Hope Presbytery: if you missed this week’s seminar, there will be another opportunity in May 2011 to learn about Acts 16:5. A four-hour seminar will be offered in two locations, one in the East and one in the West.