I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
—1 Corinthians 3:16
See, the home of God is among mortals…See, I am making all things new.
—Revelation 21: 3,5
With a nod to what will most surely be this year’s most overused metaphors, 2020 will be a year for seeking clearer vision in our life together. Each new year affords us with the chance to take stock of where we are and consider what ways God is calling us deeper into mission together.
One important way we will engage this call to clarity is by participating in a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denominational program called Vital Congregations. We are at a place of growth and new life in our congregation — it is the perfect time to ask questions of ourselves about what is going well, what is vibrant and life-giving, and perhaps where are we being called to engage God’s mission in the world in fresh ways.
The purpose of the Vital Congregations Initiative is to work alongside leaders of existing congregations continually assessing, discerning and living into faithful actions that increase vitality through intentional spiritual practices that take them deeper into following Jesus Christ so that their own lives are changed, congregations are transformed and the mission of God spreads throughout particular communities and the world.
(More information is available at https://www.northwestcoast.org/nwc-vital-congregations)
Our work on this project will commence in January, as our Session and leaders begin praying and discerning over some pre-defined questions and areas to review from the denomination. Then, in Lent, we will go through 7 weeks of study in our Sunday worship on “7 Marks of Vitality” — 7 areas that folks who study church health have identified as markers for how a church is exhibiting health, needs support, and has the opportunity to celebrate.
One of the most helpful parts of this process is that we do not do it alone. St. James will be among about a dozen other Northwest Coast Presbytery churches engaging this process. Because we do this alongside our neighboring churches, we have a chance to share best practices, work together in learning cohorts of pastors, and support one another unto the ultimate end of helping our congregations become more healthy, vibrant, and vital in the upcoming chapters of our life together.
I am excited about this work. It can be so helpful to have the support of an outside “lens” (in the form of our denomination and presbytery) to look through and see what is going on around us. When we share life in a single context day in and day out, it can be easy to lose sight of how we are changing and being inspired by God’s Spirit. I am hopeful that this process will open us up all the more and aid in discovering the ways we can celebrate the good, new, vibrant work God is calling us to in the years ahead.
I pray you will find inspiration and joy in engaging this initiative together as a congregation. Thank you for all that you bring to our community and life together.
Grace and peace,