The Vibrant Congregations Project of Luther Seminary has just published a free e-book that you can download in formats for your Kindle, iPad or Nook, or in pdf format to view and print from your computer. It’s entitled Renew 52, and inside you’ll find over fifty short articles grouped under these headings:
- Children, Youth, & Family
- Service & Mission
- Discipleship & Spiritual Practices
Click on the image above or on the title to go to the web page. The producers of the book want it to be shared freely. You will find articles that you can share with people and groups in your congregation. You could use them as discussion starters for your congregation’s board.
I scanned them all, and here are some that I found especially helpful:
- “Change Your Self-Image from Performer to Coach”: David Lose, who also edited this volume, writes, “[W]e need to stop executing religious skills for our people and train them to perform them for themselves. Otherwise they will continue to be spectators, appreciating the faith but never really learning how to do it for themselves,” p. 19.
- “Avoid McDonaldization and Advocate Distinctive Discipleship”: Ronnie McBrayer says that in their desire to do what “works,” churches imitate one another’s programs and marketing plans. This leads to churches being like brands or chains, like McDonald’s–when you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. Instead, each congregation is called to be a unique community of God where God has placed it. He writes, “Churches should cease their efforts to build spiritual shopping malls and focus instead on helping people become committed followers of Jesus,” p. 26.
- “Reinvigorate Youth Ministry by Learning from Eli and Samuel”: Kathy Wolf Reed and Nick Reed find inspiration for intergenerational youth ministry from the story of Eli and Samuel in 1 Samuel 3. They maintain that the best youth ministry is intergenerational, authentic, and reciprocal, i.e. generations care for and learn from each other. See p. 55. This leads to deeper faithfulness for everybody. (Small churches who can’t hire a “cool” youth director: are you listening?)
- “Create Family-friendly Worship Spaces”: Theresa Cho offers creative ideas to help families with children be able to worship together in the sanctuary. She writes, “Worshipping with children in our midst can be a vital asset to a faith community–not solely because they need to learn something from us, but because we need to learn something from them as well,” p. 58.
Many, many thanks to the Vibrant Congregations Project for this gift to the whole church!