Amherst Congregational UCC Blogs
ACUCC: a Vital Vintage Church
The Advent and Christmas seasons are very busy ones in the life of any church and any pastor - and especially busy for pastors who begin their ministry on the first Sunday of Advent. Now that we are through the busyness of the season, we will begin moving forward on the tasks that are a part of every Interim Ministers' portfolio as well as the specific tasks that Council has added. I'll share more about those as appropriate. In the meantime, here's how we can jump-start our efforts.
As a Church Vitality Coach in the Western Reserve Association, I was asked to coach a congregation as a part of the Association's Vitality Lab program. Ten churches are participating in four day-long sessions led by the Rev. Michael Piazza, the UCC's preeminent consultant on everything to do with church vitality. As a coach, I get to audit these sessions ... and ACUCC will reap some benefits of what I learn. The two sessions to date have been on "Transformational Worship" (enlivening worship for millenials without losing the current congregation) and Management and Money (for 21st century congregations in which meetings, cash and checkbooks are obsolete).
When we have arrived at the time to create new mission, vision and core values statements, one of the books I will recommend in preparation for this conversation is Mike's book entitled "Vital Vintage Church". ACUCC is certainly a vintage church, if one considers almost 177 years young to be "vintage". My initial observation is that it is also a vital church, filled with vitality while looking for ways to renew (read that as "re-new", or make new again) the ways that vitality is expressed. Not every idea that a consultant has, or publishes in a book, is appropriate for every congregation. However, there is much we can learn and adapt from Mike's experiences in pastoring two growing, vital congregations.
This link is to a YouTube video of a recent presentation he made ... the slides are the same as I saw in October. It's about an hour and forty-five minutes long, and I hold no illusions you will watch the entire video. But I strongly recommend you take the time to look at the first twenty or twenty-five minutes in which he brings forward his initial analysis of vintage churches. It is the basis from which he shares his experience in creating vitality.
His book is in the same style you see in the video. He writes in very accessible language and uses very little "churchspeak". The ideas in it will provide starting points for exciting conversations about renewing the vitality that is a part of ACUCC. As a matter of fact, I may structure a series of conversations around the individual chapters in the book:
- Bringing Worship into the 20th Century
- Structured for a Wiki World
- Removing the "Lead" from Leadership (with "lead" referring to the weighty metal)
- Finding our Voice
- Making "Welcome" an Active Verb
- From Survive to Thrive
- Liberating Generosity
- A Metanoia Church ("metanoia" is Greek for "repent, to change direction")
- Evangelism Is NOT a Four-Letter Word
Let's join together on a journey toward renewed and increased vitality as the new year opens our eyes to new opportunities and possibilities.