Dear friends in Christ,
Just yesterday, I had a chance to talk with a priest at a medium-sized church in the middle of the country. I was interested to hear how this church is coming out of the pandemic – what is changing and what is staying constant. The priest was asking me for examples of how similar-sized churches are adapting Christian formation to the needs of today’s church. It was a lively conversation.
This priest told me about some of the vibrant lay-lead pastoral care ministry, the beloved Bible study, and other ways lay leaders and clergy work together to make disciples. It was, for me, inspiring. At one point, I said to her, “I hope you’ll find ways to share the amazing work you’re doing with the wider church. Other congregations could learn from what you’re up to.” She said, “Well, we’re making it up as we go along.”
Making it up as we go along is actually a useful practice. Of course, our faith is eternal and constant. We don’t have to make that up! And we are blessed as Episcopalians with an ancient and comprehensive liturgical tradition that we don’t have to make up. But a lot of parish ministry benefits from a spirit of improvisation.
Making it up as we go along could be alternative language for, “We’re adjusting our practices to changing circumstances.” It requires the willingness to try something and fail. It requires a desire to find ways to share our ancient faith for today’s church. It makes us like St. Paul, who sought to “become all things to all people.”
Making it up as we go along doesn’t sound like much, but it is essential in today’s church. We’re emerging from a pandemic. We’re emerging from Christendom. We’re entering into a time when we can’t take anything about the church for granted.
Is your church adapting for our time? Are you discovering new practices that you could share with others? Are you running into roadblocks that others might have figured out? We’re all in this together.
I’ll be checking in with the priest I spoke with in a few months. She’s an amazing leader serving a wonderful church. I can’t wait to hear what they’ve discovered in their efforts to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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More from our ministry:
RenewalWorks: Connect: Hybrid Church: A Way Forward, with the Rev. Tim Schenck
Wednesday, June 9 from 7-8pm ET
RenewalWorks: Connect is a monthly online conversation series with Jay Sidebotham, Director of RenewalWorks and other thought-leaders exploring ways to continue the work of spiritual growth. Watch past recordings here.
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