Discerning our future: ESM re-starts the Program for Congregational Vitality
Do you ever ponder the future of the Church? Do you wonder about the future of your congregation? We have heard of the decline of the mainline (in fact, almost all denominations are declining in America) and of the “post-Christendom” church.
While these changes produce an understandable anxiety, as faithful Christians, we remain convinced that God still holds the future of the Church. We have heard it said that the Church does not have a mission in the world; rather God’s mission in Christ has a Church in the world.
If we are true to that mission, God will go with us as we live into new configurations.
Many of us wonder what those new configurations might look like. Many congregations in the Diocese of Missouri are currently facing the realities of this shift in our religious landscape: ebbing attendance, strained finances, part-time and/or bi-vocational clergy. These are increasingly the new norm. This program will focus on helping congregations identify God’s mission in their changing circumstances, opening themselves to a new future.
The Episcopal School for Ministry proposes to re-start the Program for Congregational Vitality (which went on hiatus after the Spring 2016 term) in January of 2017. We propose to convene interested leadership (clergy and lay) from congregations facing uncertainties and then ‘workshop’ possible directions forward. We would invite the bishop to address the workshop, and explore with us the core values which could give shape to our common life going forward, and the ministries we share as the Church of God’s mission in Christ. We would also bring in facilitators to help congregations identify their assets and core ministries. The purpose of the workshop would be to share experiences, refine wisdom gained and begin to discern more clearly the future of our congregations.
If you are interested in such a program, please contact the Rev. Dan Handschy, Dean of the Episcopal School for Ministry at