RenewalWorks Initiative

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The RenewalWorks Initiative provides a structure for assessing where we are in our faith journey, individually and as a community following God's call.  It offers a model for spiritual growth and development.  The RenewalWorks summary below gives an overview of where we are in that process and reflects actionable items that we intend to undertake going forward.

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RenewalWorks Summary

 

In September of 2021 Saint Michael’s began the RenewalWorks process. RenewalWorks, a ministry of Forward Movement, helps congregations focus on Spiritual Vitality, making spiritual growth a priority in their life and mission. Spiritual growth is experienced as an increasing love of God and neighbor. The first step was to encourage our parish to participate by taking a Spiritual Life Inventory. We received the results from the Spiritual Life Inventory in which 53 people from Saint Michael’s responded. Based on a Sunday attendance of 95, that is a 56% response rate. From that information a group of people from both the Vestry and the Strategic Planning Committee met for a total of 4 workshops where they explored Where have we been?, Where are we now?, Where do we feel called to go?, and How do we get there?. 

 

RenewalWorks is about re-orienting our parish around spiritual growth which we interpret as growing in love of God and neighbor. In the workshop process, we considered the demographics and rate of growth of both our region and also Saint Michael’s Parish. We looked at Episcopal Beliefs and Practices and considered the ones that we felt very strongly about and also the ones where we would like to grow. Additionally, we looked at the best practice principles of spiritually vital congregations. All of our responses were compared to an Episcopal church norm and also to an all church norm to give us perspective on where our parish stands. 

 

The responses we received gave us an idea of where our parish falls on a spiritual continuum. The continuum represents the path of an individual’s relationship with God, breaking it into four groups. “Exploring a life with God in Christ” is the group taking the first small steps in an intentional spiritual journey. “Growing a life with God in Christ” is the group that is more committed to their Christian faith, but still there are lots of questions. “Deepening a life with God in Christ” is the group that has a faith by which they rely on God’s presence and power in their daily lives. “Centered in a life with God in Christ” is the group where Christian faith is the most important relationship in their lives. We recognized that we have a majority of people who are in the Growing phase of their journey who may benefit from some direction, explanation, and equipping to grow. 

 

We considered the spiritual catalysts that help someone on their journey of spiritual growth and discovered that our greatest potential to encourage them are in the areas of Spiritual Beliefs and Attitudes as well as Personal Spiritual Practices. Spirituality is our ongoing, evolving relationship with this living God. Spiritual Beliefs, Attitudes, and Practices are all areas where we are able to evolve and grow in our understanding of God and his love. While we scored high in gathering together in the inventory and also in putting our faith into action, we needed more clarity in the role of scripture in our lives and also in the idea of spiritual growth (that we are called by God always to be moving deeper in our faith and making a difference in our world). We recognized that encouraging and modeling spiritual practices would be beneficial to the whole church. These included regular reflection on scripture, reading the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, and a daily prayer practice. 

 

The results of the Spiritual Life Inventory showed satisfaction with the principal Sunday service and also with the church’s role in Spiritual Growth. While we are in a comfortable place with leadership, we also understand that the imminent changes in clergy will present a new set of

both challenges and opportunities. It is clear to us that all leaders in Saint Michael’s will need to lead by example lives of continued spiritual growth. We understand that the church’s role in the spiritual journey includes setting clear expectations for growth in both love of God and love of neighbor. We would like to create an atmosphere that communicates that if you come to Saint Michael’s you will grow. 

 

We believe that these initiatives are the appropriate next steps for Saint Michael’s to take to encourage the parish in their journey with God in Christ. 

  • Offer regular opportunities for Christian education. 

  • Work on bringing people of all ages into the life of the Church. 

    • Actionable item: Personally ask someone to help serve (ie. pass out bulletins, bring up the gifts) 

    • Provide both opportunities and instruction in ways to serve in the church.

  • Embed the Bible 

    • Actionable Item: Provide the Scripture readings for the coming week in the Sunday bulletin (include this on the website, in an email, etc.) with the expectation that people will read the Scripture for the next week BEFORE the next service. 

    • Provide tools to reflect on scripture (i.e. Lectio Divina) 

    • Actionable Item: Set the expectation that all meetings begin with scripture and discussion. 

  • Make all Church decisions by considering the vision statement: “A people reaching beyond ourselves, extending hospitality, cultivating community, becoming one family in Christ." 

  • Focus on creating connection points for people to engage with the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer (*BCP as a gift for new families) 

    • Actionable Item: Prayer Book Sunday