Tag Archives: evangelism matters

Groundbreaking Research on Episcopal Spiritual Vitality

Episcopalians want to grow spiritually. Research from over 200 congregations and 12,000 Episcopalians conducted by Forward Movement is summarized in a recently published paper rooted in extensive work on spiritual growth and vitality.

The RenewalWorks ministry, which is focused on spiritual vitality and fostering a culture of discipleship, has revealed much about the spiritual life of the Episcopal Church.

“We have learned that there is great spiritual hunger among Episcopalians,” says the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, director of RenewalWorks. “And we are discovering catalysts that can address that hunger. Basic spiritual practices such as daily prayer, scripture study, worship attendance, and serving the poor will lead to transformation.”

The research paper is available for free download at www.renewalworks.org/researchsummary. There is also a graphic with some of the key findings on that download page.

The research summary outlines what we are learning about the spiritual life of the Episcopal Church, including the stages of spiritual growth and practices that lead to transformation.

Among key findings:

  • Exploring Christians include 18% of Episcopalians. This stage includes seekers and new Christians. But in the Episcopal Church, some people who have attended church for decades are also at this stage.
  • Growing Christians is a stage where people have committed to their spiritual growth. 55% of Episcopalians fit in this stage.
  • Deepening Christians are those who articulate a personal relationship with God and whose life bears significant marks of their faith. This is 23% of Episcopalians.
  • Christ-Centered represents just 4% of Episcopalians. For this small group, a personal relationship with God in Christ is the most important relationship in their lives.

 

“Our research also shows specific catalysts that are likely to move people from one stage to the next,” says the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement. “So if we want our congregations to be places where spiritual growth is happening, we need to teach and to nurture spiritual practices such as prayer, worship, study, and service.”

The research also shows the importance of the leader’s heart. “The spiritual health of the leader in the congregation is key,” Sidebotham says. “Too often clergy lose touch with their first love, with the reasons that they were drawn to ordained ministry. These challenges can have a negative effect on a church’s vitality.”

The data for the report come from the congregations who have taken part in the RenewalWorks process. This process

  • Invites congregants to take an extensive online survey of their beliefs, attitudes, and practices
  • Leads a team through four workshops to understand the findings and to implement a plan in response
  • Empowers leaders to create a culture of discipleship in their congregations

 

“What’s brilliant about RenewalWorks is that it is diagnostic, not prescriptive,” Gunn says. “There’s no gimmick here. The process tells leaders where people are, and then lay and clergy leaders can work together to offer opportunities for growth and depth.”

RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement, which is a ministry of the Episcopal Church. Known widely for its flagship devotional, Forward Day by Day, Forward Movement inspires disciples and empowers evangelists through digital resources, websites, printed materials, and conferences. Learn more about RenewalWorks at www.renewalworks.org or Forward Movement at www.forwardmovement.org.

Evangelism Matters: Early Bird Registration extended to February 1st!

Did you miss out on the sold-out Evangelism Matters Conference of 2016? Join Episcopalians from across the United States at the 2018 Evangelism Matters Conference this March. Share in three days of workshops, panels, worship, and a keynote from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The conference will develop tools required to spread the Good Word and foster techniques for growing the community of faith. Speakers include Michael Curry, Gay Clark Jennings, Stephanie Spellers, Carrie Borne Headington, Mary Foster Parmer, Scott Gunn, Frank Logue, and others. Select plenary sessions will be live-streamed and available online.

Learn more and register here: http://www.evangelismmatters.org/

Download the conference flyer with full details here: EvangelismMatters2018-flyer

When: March 15–17

Where: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, OH

Hosted by: Episcopal Church’s Evangelism Initiatives Team and Forward Movement

 

ICYMI: Week of 12/16

Welcome back to In Case You Missed It, a.k.a. ICYMI, our weekly blog roundup of the latest stories around the @fwd_mvt and #Episcopal world.

For a few months now, we’ve been posting a ‘Question of the Week’ on our social channels every Monday. Sometimes the questions are pretty major (‘When did you hear the call to ordination?’) Other times, they’re a little lighter (‘What ornament do you put on the Christmas tree first?’) Often, they’re somewhere in between.

Judging by responses, this week’s Question of the Week was our most popular yet…

Check out some of the many responses, and tell us: What’s yours?

What have you been doing to celebrate Advent? Are you overwhelmed by Christmas shopping or travel plans, or have you found some time for reflection? In this week’s Forward Today, Scott Gunn wrote about the value of taking time for silence—and his own (successful!) experience trying silence during the service as a parish priest.

Judging by the comments and likes on this one, it was a welcome sentiment! Have you found the time for silence this season? There’s still time!

It’s been a month since Episcopalians gathered to talk Evangelism in Dallas, and we’re thrilled to see that the evangelism buzz has continued. Here on the blog, we were excited to share a guest post by the Rev. Emily Schnabl, a priest in Oklahoma who attended the conference and took home the ‘cardboard evangelism’ exercise to her parish. Here’s what happened. Cool photos, too!

And of course, we’re thrilled when we see tweets like this:

If you’ve been reading this space, you know we’ve been sharing stories of the Church’s response to Standing Rock. And we wrap up this week with a powerful one: this tale of seminarians from Texas who headed to North Dakota: ‘What Sustains the Peacemaker?’

Inspiring stuff. Have a great weekend.

ICYMI: Week of 11/18/16

Welcome back to In Case You Missed It, a.k.a. ICYMI, our weekly blog roundup of the latest stories around the @fwd_mvt and #Episcopal world. Here are some of the topics that captured our attention this week.

We should probably call this week’s edition In Case You’re Missing It; right now in Dallas, folks from around the church are gathering for Evangelism Matters–or as it’s known in the social sphere, #evangelism16. If you’re not attending in person, fear not! There’s a live stream showing several excellent workshops and services, and it’s playing as we speak. Tune in now!

We loved this selfie from Father Albert Cutie from this morning’s panel:

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For more photos from Texas, check out the Evangelism Matters Conference photo album on our Facebook page, where Frank Logue is uploading pics from the gathering. Here’s another good one, of Stephanie Spellers and our own Scott Gunn:

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There are lots of other great pics and key quotes popping up all the time on the hashtag. A few of our favorite quotes so far:

“The way we present the message of Jesus must change to meet the culture of the day.”

“We must put down mission as colonialism, take up the work of witnessing as lovers of people–like Jesus.”

“We need people gossiping the gospel.”

Good stuff! Keep an eye on #evangelism16 through tomorrow (Sat 11/19) for lots more.

Elsewhere in the Episcopal world, we’re counting down to the season of counting down. Writing in Forward Today, Scott looked toward Advent with a sense of excitement and relief:

“In my entire life, I’ve never looked forward to Advent more than this year. I can’t wait for the season of quiet hope. I long for time to pray and to work for justice and peace. I look forward to my daily prayers with scriptures that promise grace and mercy.”

Amen.

(NB: If you’d like to order print Advent resources from Forward Movement–including our English and Spanish calendars–today is our shipping deadline.)

Speaking of hope: After a contentious week for the nation, our Question of the Week wanted to know:

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We deliberately left this one pretty open-ended, and we got some good answers, ranging from “Chatting with colleagues in the office at the end of the day” to “in an urban church; at a local museum; at my library.” You can add yours here.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.