Our first MAP consultation on Adult Faith formation was held Thursday, February 17, 2022, by Zoom videoconference, with more than forty people present. The wonderful turn-out led to a very helpful discussion, full of imagination for our future. We look forward to sharing more details in the near future. In the meantime, we invite preregistration for our next consultation on the topic of "Renewing Parish Culture to Enable Ministry."
Wednesday, March 16, 2022, 7 to 9PM, by Zoom Video Conference.
Please preregister here
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but give yourselves to humble tasks; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink….” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12.9-20a, 21)
When the whole people of God are freed to join the Holy Spirit at work in our neighbourhoods, communities and networks, a new future unfolds…the unfolding of God’s kingdom as described in the passage from Romans. Our task in reshaping our parish cultures is to create the space for God’s work and our parishes to intersect in the most magnificent blossoming. That blossoming is grounded in faith formation or discipleship, prayer, and a discerning use of our corporate and individual gifts, skills, and passions in the service of God’s mission.
Sometimes, parishes respond to the anxiety of declining numbers, diminishing dollars, and rising age demographics with anxiety and a generalized discontent, and when that becomes the driver of change, the ensuing adjustments are like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Our anxiety and dread are temporarily assuaged by the busyness of changing things up until we realize that nothing real has changed except that anxiety is increasing and despair often follows. Decisions about what needs to be reshaped and how that happens must be framed within the context of discerning how God is inviting a particular parish to engage with God’s mission. A commitment to the unfolding of God’s kingdom, a missional imagination rather than a commitment to the survival of a parish is the key to a renewed future.
What does it look like to free the people of God? Renewal or reshaping of a parish culture requires a willingness to examine and disrupt the old patterns, to ask questions like “how does this practice, behaviour, or expectation contribute to God’s mission?” or “how does this help us to engage with God’s people?” or “how does this help to transform us into a resurrection people?”. And this means that parish leaders must create new space for missional imagination to weave its way into and through people and parish structures. This journey invites congregations to embrace the challenging
task of living in the tension of disruption and uncertainty, of dwelling for a time in liminal space… on the threshold between the old and familiar and a future that is unknown, between a past that is comfortingly known and a shape that is as yet unknown.
Parishes will make choices along this journey guided by their readiness to live in the tension of uncertainty, by their sense of urgency around discerning God’s call to them, and by their longing for transformation. Some parishes will be ready to take big leaps and others will venture smaller steps. Remember this is a journey God invites us to make; Moses took forty years to get to the promised land – just listen to God’s voice and follow the path at whatever pace works. The most important thing is to refrain from getting mired in that sticky yearning for comfort and security!
Those parishes ready for bite-sized reshaping will want to focus their attention on reshaping parish culture in the following areas:
Stewardship - Attention to renewed stewardship practices that reflect giving as a manifestation of the gifts God gives will move parishioners to experiencing a sense of joy when they give to God’s work. Our giving to God is meant to transform us! And that giving is about our gifts, strengths, passions, and experiences as much as it is about money. Parishes can enable people to identify their gifts, create opportunities for people to use and grow those gifts in service to God’s mission, and grow people as disciples by helping them make the connection between God’s mission and their daily lives.
Radical Hospitality – while parishes do need programs and ministries that support and nurture the faithful, Jesus intends us to be like Mary recognizing Jesus by the empty tomb…so transformed by God’s love that we cannot wait to share the good news with our friends, our neighbours, and strangers we encounter! God calls us to embrace strangers, welcome outsiders, advocate for the marginalized, and see the image of God in everyone we meet. Our society is full of people yearning for meaning and connection; our tasks are to connect with them and share how the good news has transformed our lives!
Ministry Engagement – followers of Jesus want to be involved in God’s mission! Joining in the church’s engagement in mission is a perfect complement to the ways in which people pay attention to that practice of engagement with God’s mission in their home and work lives. Or engaging in the missional work of the faith community may trigger a deeper connection to God in someone’s life outside of church. The most effective way to support people in their longing for meaningful engagement is a robust volunteer management program that includes job descriptions that use missional language, a recruitment process that focuses on gifts, strengths and passions, a vigorous training/mentoring process that positions lay people for joy and accomplishment related to the mission, and frequent public and private affirmations of people and their contributions, again framed through a missional lens.
Governance – leadership and church management by the laity can be easily reshaped by missional practices, and governance practices and language that reflects God’s mission will transform the conversations a faith community has, and the work they engage in.
You are invited to complete the Parish Culture Snapshot Tool. The tool is designed to be a starting place for generating new ideas and plans for deepening our parish faith formation plan.
The value of this tool comes in noting where we are and seeing where we might go. The snapshot you create is intended to help you participate in the Adult Faith Formation gathering, is only intended for your use and will not be collected. It’s solely to stimulate your reflections and your sense of what’s possible.
Office hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
We acknowledge with gratitude and respect that our parish is located on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. We are located in the Lower Chedoke Watershed.