Monday, May 22, 2017

The Lutheran Hour Ministries Daily Devotion by Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 "Where Jesus Is" - Their destination was St. Mary Catholic Cathedral, located in the city...

The Lutheran Hour Ministries Daily Devotion by Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 "Where Jesus Is" - Their destination was St. Mary Catholic Cathedral, located in the city... 
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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries by Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour 
"Where Jesus Is" for Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Isaiah 25:4 -
For You have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall
The people came, and they came, and they kept on coming.
Their destination was St. Mary Catholic Cathedral, located in the city of Wau, which is positioned in the new nation of South Sudan. Eventually it was estimated the Cathedral's compound was holding some 16,000 souls.
Only a few times in my ministry, and never in my congregations, have I been blessed to speak to a crowd that size.
All of those occasions were celebrating God's ongoing blessings for His people I can confess to you that those presentations were always awe-inspiring, challenging, frightening, and a blessing.
Sadly, the 16,000 people gathered at St. Mary's were not recalling the Savior's birth, passion, death, or resurrection.
They were not remembering the earthly passing of one of their faithful elders or pastors.
They were not baptizing, confirming, or marrying hundreds of congregational members in a great service recalling God's grace.
No, they had come there out of a desire to stay alive. All around them homes were being burned, and Christians were being martyred by enemies of the cross.
Having observed these churchyard refugees, Father Germane Bernardo commented that these people believe it isn't "safe anywhere. But if they were going to be killed, they preferred to be killed in the church because this is the place where Jesus is present. They wanted to die in the church rather than die in their homes."
That last answer intrigued me. I was very pleased to see that these people under persecution didn't think the church was unimportant and irrelevant. That thought was immediately followed by how someone ought to tell them that Jesus is everywhere and not just in a building made by hands.
The last thing I noticed was something that wasn't there at all. Not a single one of those 16,000 people gathered in the Cathedral courtyard was considering changing his or her faith. They were all fully prepared to die rather than renounce the Savior who had promised, "Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life" (Revelations 2:10b).
I pray the Lord will watch over these people who have been forced to make decisions, which I probably will never have to make, and I pray He may also watch over us. May we also be faithful to the Savior when we are persecuted by the anti-Christian forces around us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, persecution comes in many different forms. May we who have been blessed by Jesus' great sacrifice be faithful to the Savior who gave His life for us. May we be granted the courage to stand against the forces of evil whenever they confront us. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Stoyan Zaimov for The Christian Post on May 3, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so by the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written. Please
click here.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,

Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of
The Lutheran Hour
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Today's Bible in a Year Reading: Psalms 9, 11; John 8:1-27
Psalms 9:1 (0) For the leader. On the death of Labben. A psalm of David:
2 (1) I give thanks to Adonai with all my heart.
I will tell about all your wonderful deeds.
3 (2) I will be glad and exult in you.
I will sing praise to your name, ‘Elyon.
4 (3) When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before you.
5 (4) For you upheld my cause as just,
sitting on the throne as the righteous judge.
6 (5) You rebuked the nations, destroyed the wicked,
blotted out their name forever and ever.
7 (6) The enemy is finished, in ruins forever;
you destroyed their cities; all memory of them is lost.
8 (7) But Adonai is enthroned forever;
he has set up his throne for judgment.
9 (8) He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will judge the peoples fairly.
10 (9) Adonai is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a tower of strength in times of trouble.
11 (10) Those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you have not abandoned those who seek you, Adonai.
12 (11) Sing praises to Adonai, who lives in Tziyon;
proclaim his deeds among the peoples.
13 (12) For the avenger of blood remembers them,
he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted:
14 (13) “Have mercy on me, Adonai!
See how I suffer from those who hate me;
you raise me from the gates of death,
15 (14) so that I can proclaim all your praises
at the gates of the daughter of Tziyon
and rejoice in this deliverance of yours.”
16 (15) The nations have drowned in the pit they dug,
caught their own feet in the net they hid.
17 (16) Adonai made himself known and executed judgment;
the wicked are ensnared in the work of their own hands. (Higgayon; Selah)
18 (17) The wicked will return to Sh’ol,
all the nations that forget God.
19 (18) For the poor will not always be forgotten
or the hope of the needy perish forever.
20 (19) Arise, Adonai! Don’t let mortals prevail!
Let the nations be judged in your presence.
21 (20) Strike them with terror, Adonai!
Let the nations know they are only human. (Selah)
11:(0) For the leader. By David:
(1) In Adonai I find refuge.
So how can you say to me,
“Flee like a bird to the mountains!
2 See how the wicked are drawing their bows
and setting their arrows on the string,
to shoot from the shadows at honest men.
3 If the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
4 Adonai is in his holy temple.
Adonai, his throne is in heaven.
His eyes see and test humankind.
5 Adonai tests the righteous;
but he hates the wicked and the lover of violence.
6 He will rain hot coals down on the wicked,
fire, sulfur and scorching wind
will be what they get to drink.
7 For Adonai is righteous;
he loves righteousness;
the upright will see his face.
John 8:1 But Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At daybreak, he appeared again in the Temple Court, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The Torah-teachers and the P’rushim brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery and made her stand in the center of the group. 4 Then they said to him, “Rabbi, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in our Torah, Moshe commanded that such a woman be stoned to death. What do you say about it?” 6 They said this to trap him, so that they might have ground for bringing charges against him; but Yeshua bent down and began writing in the dust with his finger. 7 When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “The one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Then he bent down and wrote in the dust again. 9 On hearing this, they began to leave, one by one, the older ones first, until he was left alone, with the woman still there. 10 Standing up, Yeshua said to her, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and don’t sin any more.”
12 Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life.” 13 So the P’rushim said to him, “Now you’re testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Yeshua answered them, “Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony is indeed valid; because I know where I came from and where I’m going; but you do not know where I came from or where I’m going. 15 You judge by merely human standards. As for me, I pass judgment on no one; 16 but if I were indeed to pass judgment, my judgment would be valid; because it is not I alone who judge, but I and the One who sent me. 17 And even in your Torah it is written that the testimony of two people is valid. 18 I myself testify on my own behalf, and so does the Father who sent me.”
19 They said to him, “Where is this ‘father’ of yours?” Yeshua answered, “You know neither me nor my Father; if you knew me, you would know my Father too.” 20 He said these things when he was teaching in the Temple treasury room; yet no one arrested him, because his time had not yet come.
21 Again he told them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin — where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 The Judeans said, “Is he going to commit suicide? Is that what he means when he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 Yeshua said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 This is why I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not trust that I AM [who I say I am], you will die in your sins.”
25 At this, they said to him, “You? Who are you?” Yeshua answered, “Just what I’ve been telling you from the start. 26 There are many things I could say about you, and many judgments I could make. However, the One who sent me is true; so I say in the world only what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he was talking to them about the Father.
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Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM). 
Change Their World. Change Yours.
This Changes Everything. 

 Brand new for summer! for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Totes @ PIH.org - Partners in Health in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

 Brand new for summer! for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Totes @ PIH.org - Partners in Health in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

We're thrilled to offer this brand new PIH beach tote, emblazoned with the motto that's guided our work for over 30 years
Memorial Day is next week, and summer will be here before you know it.
So today,
we're thrilled to offer this brand new PIH beach tote, emblazoned with the motto that's guided our work for over 30 years: Health care is a human right!Give $50 to support our health care work around the world, and we'll send your PIH tote in time for your summer trips to the beach! (But don't wait: Supplies are limited!)
Brand new PIH beach tote

Since Day 1, we've been guided by the belief that health care is a human right—whether you live in the U.S. or Malawi, Siberia or Haiti. 
Now you can help spread this mission from street to beach and beyond all summer long!
Give $50 today, and we'll send your brand new, limited-edition PIH beach tote as our thanks!
With gratitude,
The Team at PIH
P.S.
Or, receive an exclusive PIH water bottle with your tote—when you join Paul's Partners with a monthly gift of $15 or more! Get your limited-edition tote today: http://act.pih.org/pauls-partners-tote
Donate Now
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Partners In Health
800 Boylston Street, Suite 1400
Boston, Massachusetts 02199, United States
© 2009 - 2017 Partners In Health. All Rights Reserved
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District Assembly Registration Deadline for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Southern California District of The Church of the Nazarene in Murrieta, California, United States

District Assembly Registration Deadline for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Southern California District of The Church of the Nazarene in Murrieta, California, United States
Friends and SoCal Nazarene Family,

We are nearing District Assembly weekend (June 4-6) and are needing to get a final tally for housing, meals, and childcare at D.A. Thus, our deadline for registration (all three) will be this Friday, May 26th. Please get all registrations in by that day, and, pass the word along. This email likely won't reach every person who is wanting to attend, so spread the news.
Thanks so much - we look forward to seeing you soon!
Your district admin.
Rodney Kilgore

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In our haste....
Friends and SoCal Nazarene Family,
In the haste to get the news out about District Assembly registration, we forgot the link. So, here you are: to register for housing, meals, or childcare for SoCal D.A., please click HERE (http://socalnaz.org/events/district-assembly-2017)
Thanks so much - we look forward to seeing you soon!
Your district admin.
Rodney Kilgore
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RSVP NOW! 3 More days until CST's Info Session - Thursday, May 25th at 4:00 pm for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, United States

RSVP NOW! 3 More days until CST's Info Session - Thursday, May 25th at 4:00 pm for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, United States

Join the Office of Admissions
Information Session

 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

 
4:00pm - 5:00pm
The Office of Admissions at Claremont School of Theology gives you the opportunity to visit campus, review admission and financial aid requirements, plus more. RSVP to get any questions you may have answered about CST. Come to Claremont School of Theology to find the best degree program and fit for you!

RSVP HERE

Important Links:
Start Your Application
Degree Programs
Admissions Deadlines & Requirements
V
isit Campus
Financial Aid & Scholarships


Questions? Don't hesitate to contact us!Office of Admission
admission@cst.edu
Or Chat with us LIVE at CST.edu (909) 447-2507

 



Claremont School of Theology

1325 North College Avenue
Claremont, California 91711, United States
Main Number: (909) 447-2500
Copyright © 2017 Claremont School of Theology, All rights reserved.
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Last Chance for Doctoral June Scholarship! for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Kaylene Woolford - Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Last Chance for Doctoral June Scholarship! for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Kaylene Woolford - Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Congratulations on taking a monumental leap forward in your educational career by considering a doctoral degree from Grand Canyon University!
  
Grand Canyon University - Phoenix, Arizona
Grand Canyon University - Phoenix, Arizona
New Doctoral Learner Scholarship Offer
Congratulations on taking a monumental leap forward in your educational career by considering a doctoral degree from Grand Canyon University! In support of your effort, we are happy to offer you a $500 scholarship to defray the cost of your studies.
LEARN MORE

In order to receive this scholarship, you must submit a complete application and begin your program in June 2017. Move one step closer toward the incredible sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with earning a doctorate degree.

"I completed my EdD in organizational leadership while working as a senior business analyst. After earning my degree, I began to explore options to transition into the business aspect of IT where I could better serve students. I landed a job as a project manager and was quickly promoted to system director for Student Success Technologies at Minnesota State. I had found my passion for providing educational innovations and implementing technology that directly affects student learning and success. I give credit to GCU's EdD program and the caring and encouraging faculty and administration for helping me find my purpose that allows me to impact more than 400,000 current Minnesota State students."

-Timothy Anderson, Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development, Alumni 2013
 
Grand Canyon University
3300 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85017, United States.
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Church has no walls but many doors for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Alban Weekly at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, United States - PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR LEADING CONGREGATIONS: A TEXAS PRIEST IS TRYING TO DO SOMETHING BRAND NEW IN THE OLD WAY

Church has no walls but many doors for Monday, 22 May 2017 - Alban Weekly at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, United States - PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR LEADING CONGREGATIONS: A TEXAS PRIEST IS TRYING TO DO SOMETHING BRAND NEW IN THE OLD WAY


 
PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR LEADING CONGREGATIONS
The Abundant Harvest food truck is one of the many parts of St. Isidore Episcopal Church and its "offensively generous" approach to ministry. Photos courtesy of St. Isidore Episcopal Church 
 
Faith & Leadership

Church has no walls but many doors, accessible to seekers and skeptics

One body with many parts, a Houston “church without walls” brings together house churches, a food truck, pub theology, a laundry ministry and more. Its priest isn’t trying to do something old in a new way – he’s trying to do something brand-new in the old way.
In January 2016, six months after Kerry Mraz, 38, moved to Houston for his wife’s new job, his marriage ended and he found himself unmoored in a city he barely knew. While walking one day in a park near his home, he met a neighbor, who invited him to church -- at a Taco Bell.
The next Wednesday, at 7:30 a.m., Mraz went to Taco Church, where a small group of men gathered for breakfast, Bible study, jokes and prayer. The group, started by an Episcopal priest and a few guys from his gym, shared vulnerability in a way that Mraz had rarely seen. Sometimes he had to step outside the fast-food restaurant to cry.
The priest, the Rev. Sean Steele, told Mraz that Taco Church was part of the newly launched St. Isidore Episcopal, a “church without walls” focused on small group discipleship and community service. The church didn’t have a building, and it didn’t want one, Steele said. Instead, it had a cellphone app, linking members to the church’s many parts.
As Steele explained, St. Isidore was one church embodied in many different ways. It wasn’t just Taco Church. It would eventually become three house churches, a pub theology group, a free laundry ministry, a food truck and more. It was all quite unorthodox, except the liturgy and theology, which were decidedly Episcopalian.

The Rev. Sean Steele leads Ash Wednesday services for commuters in a Houston suburb.
Mraz was intrigued. Though he’d never been a committed Christian, he had been visiting a Presbyterian church in search of “help and meaning and stuff like that.” But as he had found at most bricks-and-mortar churches, “They look at you like, ‘Who’s this new guy?’”
What “stuff” are people in your community seeking? How likely are they to find that at your church?
St. Isidore was different, he said: “They create an environment that’s welcoming, but at your own pace.”
This Easter, a little over a year after his first Taco Church, Mraz and his 6-year-old son were baptized in a service he helped organize as a member of the St. Isidore leadership team.

Finding new possibilities

As many mainline Protestant churches shrink and shutter across the United States, St. Isidore is finding new possibilities by marrying a denomination’s traditions with a decentralized structure drawn from the emergent-church playbook. It’s a mission church and “research and development” effort launched by Trinity Episcopal Church, a 1,500-member parish in The Woodlands, a suburb north of Houston.
“I am not trying to do something old in a new way; I am trying to do something brand-new in the old way,” said Steele, the entrepreneurial 38-year-old priest behind the experiment. “Many [church planters] feel they need to jettison the tradition. I actually think we need to be more church, not less.”
Steele holds tightly to Episcopal liturgy even as he brings it into novel settings such as breweries and laundromats. St. Isidore is aimed not just at unorthodox places, he said, but also at unorthodox people, like the formerly Daoist chicken farmer who now runs the pub theology group.
“I’m trying to think about the people who aren’t going to a church on a Sunday morning,” Steele said. “I’m not interested in getting Christians that are already Christian.”
St. Isidore (link is external) is a church with many entry points, many thresholds that even seekers and skeptics can easily cross, Steele said. St. Isidore is the patron saint of the internet (link is external) -- part of the glue that holds Steele’s church together -- and, as Steele likes to joke, the saint’s name conveys what the church is about: “It ... is a door.”
What are the thresholds to your church? How can they be made easier to cross?
The Rev. Gerry Sevick, the rector at Trinity (link is external), hired Steele straight out of seminary in 2012 with the understanding that he would eventually plant a new church or start a missional community.
“There’s a population out there hungry for spirituality and hungry for a community of faith,” Sevick said. “While they’re skeptical about a traditional church, they are willing to explore an alternative way of being church.”
Steele brought an unusual set of skills and life experiences. The University of Texas finance graduate joined Enron six months before it collapsed in 2001 and, during college, briefly explored a call to the Catholic priesthood.
After studying systematic theology and doing social justice work, Steele discerned a call to the Episcopal priesthood. In May 2012, he received his M.Div. from Austin’s Seminary of the Southwest. Along the way, he and his wife, Becky, had three children, whom they homeschool.

A St. Isidore member invites drivers to the roadside Ash Wednesday service. 

Church for the unchurched

By the time Steele reached Trinity, the self-identified “misfit” knew he wanted to nurture a church community that catered to the unchurched. Sevick, a former social worker, was supportive. So was their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Andy Doyle, who’s written about missional communities.
Starting in January 2015, Sevick gave Steele 10 hours a week to focus on research, dreaming, planning and working with a church-planting coach -- a luxury possible perhaps only at a large multi-staff parish.
That March, a lay staff member mentioned half-jokingly that she wanted to do outreach with a free food truck. Steele jumped at the idea and started the fundraising; the food truck manufacturer became a major contributor.
The first ministry group, Pub Theology, began as an experiment in August 2015. Like similar gatherings nationwide, it attracted an eclectic mix of believers and nonbelievers across several generations. Some of them also joined other St. Isidore activities as they launched, while some just came out for the Tuesday night beer-and-discussion gatherings.
Taco Church began around the same time after Steele noticed that the group of guys he encountered at his neighborhood gym every day often shared surprisingly intimate conversations. He saw a community of trust and mutual interest that felt sort of like church.
Steele asked whether they would be interested in getting up an hour early on a Wednesday to meet across the street at Taco Bell.
“We’ll just start gathering together and praying together, and we’ll see how it unfolds,” he told them.
Four guys showed up the first time. Steele wanted to help the men recognize that their community already was blessed and that they could set it apart as sacred. Now about 10 men gather each Wednesday, including a lawyer, an event promoter and a dishwasher who was homeless for two years before he found housing with Steele’s help.
After working through a series of check-in questions, the group studies a parable. They share wisdom across generations, poke fun at each other and break bread -- specifically, breakfast tacos and some Chick-fil-A sandwiches sneaked in for variety.
A few months in, one of the members asked the others where they attended church.
“What are you talking about?” one man said. “This is my church.”
Since then, Steele has introduced more liturgical elements, such as the Lord’s Prayer and a confession.
Steele said other pastors can start similar ministries that recognize the sacred among the profane, piggybacking on moments already imbued with meaning.
Where are “sacred gatherings” and “moments imbued with meaning” happening outside of church in your community? How can they become seeds of new ministries?
“Where are people already acting like church, but they’re not calling it church?” Steele said. “Where are people looking for meaning and identity and belonging and relationship and hope, but they’re not calling it church?”

House churches, empowering laity

In the fall of 2015, Steele interviewed more than a dozen families from Trinity and elsewhere to find the group that would form the first house church. They began meeting in October to talk about core values and how to lead house churches. From the beginning, he wanted to empower lay leaders, whom he said churches often render impotent.
After St. Isidore was officially commissioned in January 2016, the first house church, aimed at families with young children, began meeting at the Steeles’ home. A second house church launched the following month. For several months, people would visit but not stick around. Steele, though, was patient.

The Rev. Sean Steele celebrates Eucharist at one of St. Isidore's two house churches. 
“I don’t have a choice,” he said. “There’s a long arc on this.”
Steele was also willing to make mistakes and learn from them. A third house church, aimed at millennials, fizzled over seven months as several members moved away for work.
But that was OK. Failure was part of it. Sevick and Steele always agreed that they wouldn’t keep St. Isidore activities “on life support.”
For Steele, death is an essential part of a Christian community, and church leaders need the courage to let some projects die.
What ministries, if any, in your church are on life support? What would it take to let them die?
This spring, the church plans to start a new effort drawing on those lessons -- a less explicitly churchlike event that will combine “slam poetry, prophetic artistry and culinary expression.”
In February, they launched another experiment, Warrior Church, which meets at a boxing gym on Sundays at 7:30 a.m. After Steele leads a short Episcopal service, Greg Fleischman, a personal trainer, leads the eight or so participants through a 40-minute workout.
“I never really liked church, and I never really liked working out,” said one participant, Rocky Snyder. But to his surprise, the combination works at Warrior Church.
The session, aimed partly at military veterans, includes resistance bands and barbells -- and swinging a sledgehammer against a tire, an activity that Snyder called his version of confession.

Laundry Love

One of the busiest programs at St. Isidore, Laundry Love, brings together participants from the church’s many parts. Held the second Sunday of every month since early 2016, the event -- part of a national Laundry Love (link is external) network -- offers free laundry, groceries, haircuts and health checks.
About 9 a.m. on Palm Sunday, the first volunteers in green St. Isidore T-shirts descended on a laundromat in a nondescript strip mall. Fittingly for Houston, the country’s most diverse major city, the laundromat is owned by Hindu immigrants who rent out the facility to host a Christian service in English and Spanish.

Clad in green T-shirts, St. Isidore members celebrate Palm Sunday in a Houston laundromat.
A few volunteers prepared the food truck, which on a busy Sunday serves as many as 200 meals. Others set out bags of free groceries and arranged a kids area with donated toys and books. A nurse began checking blood pressure and blood sugar, offering referrals to a nearby free clinic.
“This is so easy, and you get church, too,” said Litha Island, 51. The single mother said she could do laundry at her godmother’s place but didn’t want to run up the utility bills.
Later, Suzette Harrigal walked in with a bundle of blankets and looked confused when Judy Ryan, a volunteer and founding St. Isidore member, offered her free quarters for her laundry.
“We’re here to help the working poor, and we have a church service,” Ryan explained.
“Jesus would be so proud,” Harrigal said as she hugged Ryan. “This is what church is supposed to be.”
Ryan said she signed up for St. Isidore after she found her mind wandering to grocery lists during traditional church services. She participates regularly in a house church, Laundry Love and Pub Theology.
Another volunteer, Manny Vazquez, attends a different Episcopal church in the area but started helping with Laundry Love in late 2016. He represents a phenomenon that Steele calls “streaming.”
Churches must recognize that today’s Christians assemble their own discipleship routines from a buffet of options, Steele said. Instead of committing to one church and its activities, someone might attend a house church, do service projects with the YMCA, listen to a Baptist podcast and read a nondenominational pastor’s books. It’s a model that doesn’t require an exclusive relationship with one church community, either in time or in money.
In what ways does your church expect an exclusive relationship with members? Is “streaming” a threat or asset to its ministries?
Vazquez, for example, participates in Laundry Love even though it’s not tied to his own church, because he sees a need to reach out to people who aren’t in the pews on Sunday mornings.
“If people don’t go to the church, let’s go to the people,” said Vazquez, a Cuban refugee who has also shared his faith journey with St. Isidore’s small youth group.
Steele said St. Isidore’s outreach ministries aim to give as Jesus did -- being “offensively generous.”
It was such generosity that attracted Pat Snyder to St. Isidore even though he wasn’t a Christian. Now the coordinator of Pub Theology, Snyder adhered to the ancient Chinese religious philosophy of Daoism. After his retirement-project chicken farm flooded last year, Snyder was stunned when Steele and 20 others arrived to help clean up. Snyder was so perplexed by their kindness that he got involved, too, and says he might be tilting toward Christianity.
Around 12:45 p.m. on Palm Sunday, the Laundry Love group gathered for a service complete with palm fronds. Over the din of washers and dryers and a soccer match playing out on the wall-mounted televisions, Steele led a partly bilingual Eucharist with the elements laid out on the laundromat’s folding tables.

High-energy priest

Clearly, a church like St. Isidore requires a high-energy priest who can juggle multiple tasks and hold everything together. Steele fills the bill.
“I’m about as ADD as they come,” Steele said. “Can’t stay on one topic!”
Sevick said Steele has an entrepreneurial mindset and financial acumen that’s ideally suited for St. Isidore.

The Rev. Sean Steele imposes ashes on members of St. Isidore's youth group, which meets in a Panera Bread restaurant. 
“He’s able to go in and start from the ground up and build from nothing, be a cheerleader and bring other people on board to make it successful,” Sevick said.
But St. Isidore’s existence doesn’t depend entirely on Steele. Laity also play a strong leadership role. Steele attends Pub Theology only twice a month, and one house church usually meets without him.
Even so, Steele’s pace seems exhausting. Last year, he had only 10 days when he didn’t do anything related to the church.
“Church planting means sleeping when the baby sleeps,” he said. As the church becomes a toddler, Steele has introduced boundaries, trying to take off Mondays and Fridays, and reserving Thursday evenings for family time.
St. Isidore still relies on Trinity for financial support and other resources, including Steele’s salary, office space, administrative staff and volunteers. Steele remains on the Trinity staff, preaching quarterly and meeting with Sevick every month. But he’s also diversified his funding with grants and support from other churches and individuals.
Steele hopes that St. Isidore can be financially sustainable in a few years, operating on a projected budget of only $150,000. He envisions the money coming from 10 groups of 15 members, each contributing an average of $1,000 a year.
The grand experiment has benefited both Trinity and St. Isidore, both pastors said, but it might not be right for every church. The project’s scope might overwhelm smaller churches, but many congregations can replicate some of its elements, Sevick said.
“House churches can be formed by any congregation if they have trained leadership and know where the population is that’s looking to express their Christian faith outside the traditional bricks and mortar,” he said.
But churches wanting to try need to be comfortable making mistakes. They should also have a “tolerance for the awkward” and a mindset that values intentions over results.
Even if St. Isidore benefits only one person in the long run, Steele said, he will be happy.
“The call is to be faithful, not successful,” he said.

Questions to consider:

  • What “stuff” are people in your community seeking? How likely are they to find it at your church?
  • What is the difference between “doing something old in a new way” and “doing something brand-new in an old way?” Where does your church fall on the spectrum of new and old programs and new and old ways?
  • What are the thresholds to your church? How accessible are they? How can they be made easier to cross?
  • Where are “sacred gatherings” and “moments imbued with meaning” happening outside of church in your community? How can they become seeds of new ministries for your church?
  • What ministries, if any, in your church are on life support? What would it take to let them die?
  • In what ways does your church require an exclusive relationship with members? Is “streaming” a threat or asset to its ministries? How so?

IDEAS THAT IMPACT: CONGREGATIONAL INNOVATION
Adjusting to a new normal
Faith & Leadership

Adjusting to a new normal

One significant trend within church life is the changing nature of congregating. That makes it increasingly important for congregations to experiment with new models and share what they are learning with one another.
A pastoral leader recently observed that her congregation is recalibrating its understandings of active and committed participation in church life. In her setting, “frequent church attendance” is now about two times per month for members, three times per month for leaders. She said that their former expectations for congregational participation at the peak of summer vacation season are now their expectations year-round.
While the poll data seem a bit conflicted about how pervasive this pattern is within American church culture and there are certainly regional variations, it is safe to say that her congregation is not the only one to experience this change. Anecdotally, many congregations – especially medium-sized ones -- are finding that fewer people attend and those that do are less consistent.
In her setting, this changed and changing nature of participation in the life of the congregation is sparking conversations about the nature of discipleship and commitment and the shape of Christian community today. The clergy and staff continue to teach newcomers about the importance of regular worship attendance and sharing in the life of the gathered community. They teach and preach that being together is an essential part of Christian faith and practice, a vital discipline for spiritual growth and maturation.
But they hear a now-familiar litany of conflicting obligations, ranging from Sunday morning soccer practice to work commitments to family travel. Members and leaders insist that they are deeply committed to the life of the church; they just won’t be there on Sunday morning.
In response, the congregation is reimagining everything from Christian formation and educational programs to the Sunday morning preaching calendar.
No longer do they plan and offer extended learning series, each dependent upon and building upon the previous weeks’. Offerings are now stand-alone opportunities, allowing participants to drop in and drop out. While the church uses the lectionary, which by its very nature makes the preaching of series-based sermons difficult, preachers now rotate much more frequently to ensure that each sermon stands alone. This means that if this is your first Sunday in four weeks, the sermon is as accessible as if you had been there every Sunday.
This changed participation is also sparking their institutional imagination for new and alternative ways of “being together.” They are creating opportunities for members and leaders to gather throughout the week in the church building and out in their community, both in person and online. It has them evaluating what is most formative and transformative about time spent together and adjusting their ministries accordingly.
In their column on deep trends affecting Christian institutions, Greg Jones and Nathan Jones write that one significant trend within American church life is the changing nature of congregating. While they highlighted multi-campus congregations and new monastic communities, congregations like my friend’s or Awakenings Movement in Detroit underscore other ways that congregating is changing.
If the most familiar models for ministry and congregational life are based on outdated (or increasingly outdated) assumptions about participation, congregations that are experimenting with new models are more important than ever, and how they share what they are learning will be crucial for the future of vibrant communities of faith.
A D.C. church changes worship from passive to participatory
Faith & Leadership
D.C. church changes worship from passive to participatory
The Rev. Ashley Goff (left) and the Rev. Jeffrey K. Krehbiel invite congregants to the communion table. Photos by Mike Morones.
At Church of the Pilgrims, vulnerability is a virtue and worship is an innovative and deeply collaborative experience between clergy and congregants.
Editor’s note: Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C., is one of four organizations recently honored with the Traditioned Innovation Award (link is external) from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. The following is the second in an occasional series of articles about the award winners.
Melissa Scaggs had attended Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C., for about a year when the Rev. Ashley Goff, the church’s minister for spiritual formation, invited her to share a personal story during an upcoming Sunday service.
Scaggs, a Connecticut native, had begun to consider the Presbyterian church her home away from home, its congregation her extended family. But she was worried. What if the story she wanted to tell -- the story she needed to tell -- wasn’t appropriate? What if people were offended?
Uncertain what to do, Scaggs told Goff the story she’d told almost no one else.
“This is absolutely appropriate,” Goff assured her.

Church of the Pilgrims among 2016 winners (link is external)

Leadership Education at Duke Divinity recognizes institutions that act creatively in the face of challenges while remaining faithful to their mission and convictions. Winners receive $10,000 to continue their work.
So on a Sunday morning in October 2012, Scaggs, then 24, walked to the center of the Pilgrims sanctuary, took a deep breath and shared how she’d been sexually assaulted when she was 14, how she’d struggled for years with depression, how even in recent years she’d wrestled with thoughts of suicide.
When she was done, she sat down in a pew next to Goff and rested her head on the minister’s shoulder. It was Goff’s first Sunday back at Pilgrims after losing her father to a sudden heart attack.
“When Melissa told her story, it was really intense, really deep,” Goff said. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God, someone just met me where I’m at, in that deep place.’ How many other people walk in here and need someone to meet them in that deep place?”
After the service, members greeted Scaggs and thanked her for telling her story. One approached Goff and told her that all the church’s many changes in recent years had been worth it.
What story are you most afraid to tell? How would your church respond?
“Someone told me, ‘For every decision and every penny that’s ever been spent on this place, it was all leading up to that point where Melissa could put her head on your shoulder,’” Goff said.
“I needed that moment, too,” Goff added. “She didn’t know that, but I did.”
Such moments typify Sundays at Church of the Pilgrims, where vulnerability is a virtue and worship is an innovative and deeply collaborative experience between clergy and congregants. Liturgy means “work of the people,” and at Pilgrims, the people truly share in the work of worship. They help plan each liturgical season and share the pulpit nearly every week, offering personal stories of pain and healing, celebration and reflection, awakening and transformation.

Church members shake hands and greet one another during the passing of the peace. 
Over the past 17 years, Goff and longtime pastor the Rev. Jeffrey Krehbiel have worked hard to create what one member called “a culture of unconditional love and support,” an intimate space where people feel safe enough to journey regularly to that “deep place.”
Too often, Goff said, worship can be a passive, lonely affair. At Pilgrims, she said, it’s a community effort that inspires people to action. By helping the congregation push past discomfort and connect with God and each other, worship at Pilgrims prepares people to embody their faith outside the church, serving others.
“If we want to take this outside the walls, we have to practice that type of risk-taking in liturgy,” Goff said. “Ultimately, when we go out of here, we have to take serious risks: housing people who are unhoused, getting health care for those who don’t have it, creating safe spaces for the LGBT community.”
If worship stays the same, people will stay the same, Goff said: “But we can’t stay the same. If we want the world to change, liturgy has to change.”

Members enter the Church of the Pilgrims, a D.C. congregation long known for its commitment to inclusivity and social justice. 
What about your church needs to change in order to help change the world?

Church of the Pilgrims, inside and out

A rainbow-colored flag declaring ALL ARE WELCOME is draped above the entrance to Church of the Pilgrims (link is external), and a 42-foot-long #BlackLivesMatter banner hangs from the bell tower, publicly affirming the church’s commitment to inclusivity and social justice.
Inside, the sanctuary is set up like a theater-in-the-round, the result of a 2005 renovation to promote community and intimacy. Above the communion table at the center of the room, a crown of lights hangs from the high ceiling, and four banners, each with a quatrefoil motif, lend an air of coziness to the otherwise cavernous space.


Billy Kluttz, director of music, leads the congregation in song during worship at The Church of the Pilgrims.
On a recent Sunday, early arrivals for worship affixed nametags to their shirts and sipped coffee in the pews, while Billy Kluttz, the director of music, helped the small choir warm up. As children entered, they scattered to prayer stations around the perimeter of the room. There, using magnets and sand trays, magnifying glasses and binoculars, crayons and books, they explored basic concepts of worship -- making connections, seeing things differently and telling stories.
Though the church’s original raised pulpit remains on the chancel, Krehbiel never uses it, preferring a simple wooden lectern on the same level as the communion table and pews.
“It’s a democratization of the space,” said Kluttz. “We’re figuring out what the priesthood of the believers looks like.”
A 10-minute drive from the White House, Church of the Pilgrims was founded in 1903 and its current building constructed in 1928 with donations from Presbyterian churches throughout the South. Back then, the church was considered the national church of Southern Presbyterians, but by the 1950s and ’60s, it was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, with the Rev. Randy Taylor (link is external) preaching equality and marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
By the time Krehbiel and Goff arrived -- he in August 2000, she 18 months earlier as the church’s director of Christian education -- the church’s heyday had long passed. Attendance was sparse, the building was run-down, funds were scarce, and morale was low after a rough parting with a previous pastor.
“Pilgrims was in a sad place,” Goff said. “Their sense of identity was gone. They didn’t know who they were, so worship felt of those things.”
When Krehbiel interviewed at Pilgrims, he could tell that members were proud of their past but anxious about the future.
“Our history didn’t save us,” one search committee member told him.
Not long after he became pastor, Krehbiel led a goal-setting session, asking members to identify their top priorities for the church and what changes would need to be addressed with the utmost caution and sensitivity.
“Changes in worship” topped both lists.
What are your church’s top priorities for change? Which would require the most sensitivity and caution?
The message?
“This is what we need to do, and this is the thing that makes us most nervous,” Krehbiel said.
For Krehbiel and Goff, the challenge was to help Pilgrims worship in a way that reflected who they actually were rather than who they thought they were supposed to be in the historic old space.

The congregation lays hands on Amanda Rocabado as she is ordained as an elder for education. 

From passive to participatory

“The big shift was from the passive to the participatory,” Krehbiel said. “How do we take worship from something we watch to something we do?”
That’s a question many congregations wrestle with, said the Rev. Susan A. Blain, the minister for faith formation and curator for worship and liturgical arts for the United Church of Christ. An authority on worship, Blain has helped Goff brainstorm about liturgical creativity and is familiar with the changes at Pilgrims. Having laity play a more active role in worship requires courage and commitment from clergy, who must yield some control in order to create a safe environment where the congregation is willing to share what’s happening in their lives, she said.
“You begin to move away from this passive notion that worship is something that’s received,” Blain said. “It’s not a pastor declaiming something up front. It’s a pastor in the middle of everybody, encouraging whatever the response is, whatever the spirit is.”


Amanda Rocabado hugs the Rev. Jeffrey K. Krehbiel after being ordained as an elder for education. 
As at most churches, members at Pilgrims had always played some role in worship, primarily logistical, organizing communion or procuring candles. But if worship was going to be relevant and imbued with a sense of belonging, then congregants needed to have a stake in the content, Krehbiel said.
At first, he asked for volunteers to help plan worship each week. After a while, to broaden the group, he and Goff recruited a cross section of congregants to the planning workshops. Now, a different group plans each season of worship, generally following the lectionary calendar, about four to six weeks in advance.
Krehbiel and Goff provide each group with the liturgical texts, and then, with Kluttz, they host an evening of brainstorming, encouraging lay leaders to unpack patterns, themes and symbols that might guide worship.
They ask the group questions: What has stayed with you from the past season? What’s the relationship between the text and what’s happening in our lives, in our community and in the world? What is the mood of the text? What are you wondering about? How do we make this season come alive?
“We discovered that members of the congregation were sometimes more venturesome than we were,” Krehbiel said. “When you do it yourself, you’re taking on all the risk. Now, we’re all kind of sharing in the risk.”
Krehbiel and Goff are still the church’s spiritual leaders, but sharing the pulpit and the planning process with others has allowed everyone to experience worship on a deeper level, said member Diana Bruce.


Diana Bruce speaks from center of the sancturay during Sunday worship at Pilgrims, a church where members are invited to be open and vulnerable. 

The ‘thin space’

“Ashley talks about the ‘thin space,’ when God is close,” Bruce said. “That happens here more than I’ve experienced in any other congregation. You’ve been invited to be so open and vulnerable that sometimes God is so close you can almost touch God.”
How and when does your community experience “thin” spaces? How can it make such moments more likely to happen?
That’s not to say the changes came easily or without fear. Stan Lou, a member since 1989, said some members grumbled when church leaders discussed renovating the sanctuary or altering long-standing traditions. A few people left, but the process was so inclusive that most embraced the changes.
Altering sacraments can be a sticky issue, Krehbiel said. Before he arrived, Pilgrims offered communion on the first Sunday of the month, distributed by elders to congregants as they sat in the pews. With maybe 65 worshippers scattered about a sanctuary built for 350, communion could be a solitary experience, Krehbiel said.
Eventually, at Krehbiel’s urging, the schedule became more flexible, with communion also being offered on Easter, World Communion Sunday and, some years, every Sunday during Lent. Perhaps more important, the church also changed how it did communion.
Now, communion is usually held around the table at the center of the sanctuary and is served not just by elders but also by other members and even children, in an effort to better reflect the community.
Beneath the fear of change, Goff said, is a deeper question: Will I still belong?
“And the answer is always yes,” she said. “In the spirit of the promise of the resurrection, something has to die for new life to come. That is what has happened here: constant resurrection of us, of liturgy, of how we are together. We worship as if we really trust God’s promise that as something is dying, something will come back to life.”
What might need to die within your church so that something else can come to life? 
Krehbiel said one or two worshippers objected to walking up to a communion table, but getting up and moving about the sanctuary is now the custom at Pilgrims. Exchanging the peace might take 10 minutes as congregants shake hands and greet one another. Individual prayers of thanksgiving are shared aloud in a circle and affirmed by everyone in the room.
And with each season, new temporary prayer stations are often created where worshippers can reflect on themes such as healing and groundedness, impermanence and new beginnings. During Advent last year, the historic pulpit was decorated to look like a mountain, and worshippers could climb inside and write poetry.


Children take part in the worship service, while also working on activities at one of several prayer stations placed around the sanctuary. 

No mistakes in improv and liturgy

Sundays at Pilgrims require a fair amount of improvisation as clergy and congregants share duties, and adults and children share worship space, Goff said. But fortunately, in both improv and liturgy, there are no mistakes.
“Do things go not as planned?” Goff said. “Yes. There are awkward moments, but it roots you. How do we react to each other when things don’t go as planned? Are we still kind? Loving? Do we have mercy for each other? When those moments happen, how has liturgy trained us to be loving people?”
As Pilgrims has grown into its new style of worship, some congregants have become “liturgical artists” who love experimenting with how the Word is delivered. Indeed, some of their suggestions resemble performance art.
Who are the liturgical artists in your congregation? How can they be best equipped to deliver the Word?
One year, during the church’s “Homecoming season” -- Sundays between September and November -- the planning group focused on the theme of food and faith, using visuals to illustrate dying and rising. Members were invited to toss scraps of fruits and vegetables for composting into a wheelbarrow just outside the sanctuary doors.
Inside, the baptismal font was filled with food that had begun to rot, and at the center of the sanctuary, the communion table was replaced with a large pile of compost topped by a pitcher, cup and bread. At a later service, the table returned, covered in newly harvested produce, symbolizing the resurrection and hopes for a restored planet.
World and national events can also shape worship. Last summer, after several high-profile shootings of black men by police officers, the church spent weeks exploring white privilege and the importance of “disrupting the center.”
Based on those discussions, they decided to break from their usual communion practice, in which members surround the table and pass the bread around the circle. Instead, members carried the bread across the circle, asking people on the other side whether they had been served. The change required people to pay attention and listen to each other, Goff said.
“What if that’s how we acted in the world every day?” she said. “‘What we’re asking people to do is mash up against each other. That’s what we’re asking them to do when they go outside. This is preparation for being in public space.”
One Sunday, to connect worship to service in the world, congregants spent part of the service making and delivering sandwiches to homeless people in nearby Dupont Circle or working in the church’s garden, which provides food for a Sunday communal meal for hungry neighbors.
“The stuff we do in worship wouldn’t make sense if we didn’t do the stuff outside of worship,” said Krehbiel. “You need a context that grounds your worship in what you’re doing in the world.”
Later this month, Krehbiel will begin taking that message and others to new congregations. After 17 years at Pilgrims, he’s starting work with The James Co., (link is external) a church consulting firm, where he will help congregations with strategic planning and fundraising.
He’s leaving behind a much-changed church.


The Rev. Jeffrey K. Krehbiel thanks the congregation at the conclusion of his last service after 17 years at The Church of the Pilgrims.
Even after several years of the “new” worship, Stan Lou said he’s still amazed by how it connects to his own experience. The son of Chinese immigrants, Lou said that hearing people’s personal stories in worship has helped him come to terms with the racism he experienced growing up. Krehbiel and Goff always find a way to make Scripture relevant to 21st-century life, he said.
“It’s not just rehashing old Bible stories,” Lou said. “They’ve brought out the word of God as a living, dynamic word that still has relevance in our lives today. It’s always real here.”

Questions to consider:

  • What story are you most afraid to tell? How would your church respond? How would you want them to respond?
  • What about your church needs to change in order to help change the world?
  • What are your church’s most-needed changes and which would require the most sensitivity and caution?
  • How and when does your community experience “thin” spaces? What steps would make such moments more likely?
  • What might need to die within your church so that something else will come to life? How willing is your church to take that risk?
  • Who are the liturgical artists in your congregation? How can you best encourage and equip them to deliver the Word?
  • What does your church do inside that prepares congregants to serve outside?
Read more about Church of the Pilgrims » 
Faith & Leadership
Five tips for achieving lasting change in congregations
Young people in a group hug
Engaging young adults in Jewish life was one of the goals of the Union for Reform Judaism's Communities of Practice, which sparked experiments in synagogues across North America.Photo courtesy of the Union for Reform Judaism
Synagogues that participated in the Union for Reform Judaism's Communities of Practice identified best principles to advance change.
In 2013, the Union for Reform Judaism, the umbrella organization of Reform Jewish congregations throughout North America, launched a movement-wide set of experiments with Communities of Practice (link is external).
In addition to a young adult initiative, it included one that examined 21st-century financing for synagogues, one that explored how best to meet the needs of young families, and one that looked at meeting those needs through an early childhood education center.
All were topics that had generated many questions from the URJ’s member congregations over the years, and the organization reached out first to synagogues that had already expressed an interest in them, later expanding its recruitment efforts through social media and newsletters.
The URJ wanted the congregations in each Community of Practice to start from the same point. So congregations that hadn’t yet addressed the problem or had been frustrated with the results of early efforts were chosen over those that had already experienced success and simply wanted to build on that.
The URJ insisted that each congregation make a long-term commitment to participate over the course of 18 to 24 months and that each involve both staff and lay leaders -- unless a synagogue was so small that it had only part-time staff or none at all.
The synagogues shared with each other the results of their efforts, what worked and what didn’t. And they continue to do so with each other and with other synagogues through the URJ’s social networking site, The Tent (link is external).
The URJ has recently launched six new Communities of Practice, exploring everything from how to make the bar and bat mitzvah experience deeper and richer for children and their families to how to engage congregants through small groups.
Each of the URJ’s Communities of Practice wrote a report on their experience and included a list of “best principles” for achieving lasting, meaningful change within a congregation.
Even congregations that share the same concerns are diverse in their membership, history, resources and personalities, and no one plug-in solution will work for everyone, says Amy Asin, the URJ’s vice president for strengthening congregations. But outcomes improve when congregations follow a deliberate, methodical approach to developing solutions.
Here are some of the principles developed by the URJ:
Empower lay leaders. Encourage your target audience, whether it be young adults, young families or both, to take ownership of the process. Establish a trusted, trained core of lay leaders who will be networking while creating the community they want to be part of. Staff can’t, and shouldn’t, do it all. “If you build a world that’s about maximal entry points, you can’t be every place,” says Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas of Temple Beth El in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Play the long game. You may need to devote several years to an experiment before you see results, so be willing to invest time and patience, Thomas said. “My biggest take-away is you absolutely can’t back down. Nothing about this is ‘set it and forget it.’ You constantly have to stoke the fires. … With experiments, anytime you’re pushing the boundaries, you can’t just do it once. You have to do it consistently to create structure.”
Don’t get caught up in numbers. Traditionally, congregations have looked at quantitative measures of success: How many people showed up to an event? Was there enough food for everyone? Did we stay within budget? All of those are fine to track, but the URJ urges congregations to develop deeper measures: Did anyone make a new friend? Are participants hanging out together outside the synagogue? Are they learning meaningful ways to apply a Jewish lens to their broader lives?
Be authentic. Temples seeking to attract young adults often assume -- incorrectly -- that if events are “too Jewish,” young people won’t participate. “What we found was interesting and fascinating. In every congregation, they didn’t want anything purely social,” said Lisa Lieberman Barzilai, the director of the URJ’s Leadership Institute. “You shouldn’t be walking away from the Jewish piece -- that’s why they were going to you. If they wanted something purely social, they could go to a bar.”
Take programming beyond the walls of the institution. Engage your audience wherever they feel comfortable -- whether it’s in coffee shops, offices, pumpkin patches or people’s homes. And particularly when trying to reach young adults, make sure your online and social media presence is responsive, engaging and reflective of the type of environment you’re trying to create.
Sources: Young Adult Engagement Community of Practice report (link is external), Engaging Young Families Community of Practice report (link is external), 8 Principles That Drive Strong Congregations (link is external). 
Read more about Union for Reform Judaism» 
 
FROM THE ALBAN LIBRARY
Edited by Dorie Grinenko Baker 
 
Do you know a church where young people regularly shape the liturgy with words that speak their truth in ways that also inspire their elders? Do you hear about congregations that reach out in quirky new ways to their ailing neighborhoods, instead of locking doors and shipping out to a suburb? Do you find churches creating hospitable space that invites the live wriggling questions and doubts of young people in unhurried, unworried ways? Do you see congregations where young people's gifts are not stored in the basement or bracketed into 'contemporary' worship services but are brought forth and celebrated? 
The authors who collaborated on this book launched a quest for such vibrant, life-giving, greening congregations and observed the diverse practices that grow there. They named these churches 'Greenhouses of Hope.' 
A Greenhouse of Hope is a Christian congregation freeing itself to experiment with both newly imagined and time-honored ways of following the path of Jesus. Its members respond to God's love through practices that genuinely embrace the gifts of youth and young adults.
Out of these greenhouses emerge young leaders who want to change the world. In Greenhouses of Hope, Dorie Baker and six contributors tell the stories of these remarkable congregations, helping others think about how they can create space for the dreams of young people to be grafted into God's dreams for the world. 
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