Bringing New Life To Congregations
The purpose of the Vital Congregations Initiative is to work alongside leaders of existing congregations that are assessing, discerning and living into faithful actions that increase vitality. Through intentional spiritual practices that take them deeper into following Jesus Christ, congregations are transformed and the mission of God spreads throughout our particular communities and the world.
The 7 Marks Of Vitality
Lifelong Discipleship Formation is about daily life. It’s about how we claim and proclaim our identity as followers of Christ. It’s about how we practice our faith; how we grow in faith, cherish faith, and share faith in the world.
Evangelism is simply sharing the Good News. It is authentic and it is intentional, not merely expressions of kindness or good moral ethics.
If discipleship formation is about learning/understanding/living the Good News, and authentic evangelism is about intentionally sharing the Good News in relationships, then outward incarnation is about not limiting where and to whom we share the Good News.
All people of God, in the image of Christ, are given fruit of the Spirit and spiritual gifts meant for building up the Church. In this way, we are all called to serve the Lord, to do our part in membership of the body of Christ. Every part is necessary. Every part is valuable, and every voice is important.
Spirit-Inspired worship is a gift of God’s wonder! Six days we labor and toil, and on this Holy Sabbath day we get to come into the presence of God; we get to encounter the awesome mystery of the God who longs to be known in relationship with us.
Caring relationships seems an easy mark of vitality. We all want a place to belong; people who care about us. Many congregations would argue: “this is why we come together; we welcome and care for each other.” Yet, caring relationships in Christ requires true agape love; a sacrificial, self-emptying, perfect love.
Ecclesial health is about: 1) Why we gather as a church community 2) How we practice being church together. It is about whether our mission, vision, and values match up with the ways we live together. It requires continual attentiveness, awareness, and assessment in asking “are we who we say we are?” And more importantly, “are we who God is calling us to be?”
The Revitalization Process
The Vital Congregations Initiative is a spiritual process that renews congregations as they pray. VCI guides congregations into discovering how God is leading them into relevant, faithful service. VCI helps churches look at the changing world at their doorstep, assess needs and form their response to it. VCI invites churches to ask, “are we who we say we are?” And “are we who God is calling us to be?” VCI is a process for answering these questions.
Year One of VCI emphasizes deepening relationships of faith that will revitalize congregations. Churches that choose to take on this initiative will embark on an honest assessment of their life and ministry guided by trained VCI Facilitators and supported by the VCI national staff.
Year Two of VCI is about joining Christ in the new thing taking place, allowing the wonder of God to transform churches as they faithfully live into change and revitalization. We pray and plan and act so that God will lead congregations into missional action and faithful discipleship with Christ throughout our neighborhoods, our nation and God’s world.