Do you want to get the biggest bang for your ministry buck? Consider hospitality as your next major ministry initiative. In a recent survey of innovative faith formation leaders, hospitality was identified as the most powerful characteristic that helps to sustain and grow an innovative ministry, intergenerational ministry in this case.
We all get them. Electronic Newsletters from our congregation, news outlets, organizations that we belong to, or our child’s school fill our inboxes. If you are like many people, you scan them for information you might need or interesting things you may want to look into and then they are discarded. If your congregation is like many, you have gone to the electric format for a number of reasons, and even if you still print out your newsletter, I encourage you to think of how you can use it as a formation tool.
Vibrant, healthy, lifelong faith formation in our congregation is the goal. Isn’t it? It seems it would be easy to provide programs, Bible studies, and resources for Christian education for all ages in our congregations. Then one day we ask someone to volunteer their time to do it. This person finds out that not only is the budget shrinking to buy materials, but that people aren’t coming. They plan, publicize, and hope for the best. After a few months, they may find themselves feeling alone, getting slightly burned out, and developing a very negative feeling about faith formation happening at all. Those negative feelings begin to grow like cancer and begin to seep into other parts of their life as well. Where do they turn? Who can they talk to? Discouragement comes easily. How can we give support and help them?
Everyone needs a way in. The church growth literature has emphasized that visitors to your church need to be greeted by someone who will make them feel welcome and will get them connected with others who can share in the work of introduction and connection. The best greeters do this in a way that is personal, picking up on signals that suggest a particular kind of follow-up introduction. “Who might this person enjoy meeting?” they ask themselves.
Encourage adults to notice the blessings around them and to write about them. David Steindl-Rast’s book, 99 Blessings: An Invitation to Life Rast (Image, 2013) gives blessings that the Catholic monk has experienced and cherished. Blessings in this book include birthdays, constellations, learning by heart, sleep, spring flowers, and more.
Last month I was involved in an experience which has made me wonder, wonder about some of our approaches for adult faith formation.
In an online discussion with leaders in adult faith formation throughout the country (who usually have lots to say) I asked what their churches were doing in response to the call from Pope Francis for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria (on September 7, 2013). Francis invited Catholics, other Christians, those of other faiths and non-believers who are `'men of good will" to join him that day in St. Peter's Square to invoke the `'gift" of peace for Syria, the rest of the Middle East and worldwide where there is conflict.
There was one response.
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