Our C3 churches are enjoying a busy Summer as they begin to implement their plans to build creative cultures of calling in their local congregations. It’s been exciting to learn about the different strategies, programs, and emphases that each church has committed to focus on, and we thought it would be inspiring to report on some of that here.

 

Ascension Catholic Church in Portland, OR has focused its energies on two specific outcomes: 10 to increase active participation in Mass, in individual parish ministries, or in the ministries of the home, workplace, or neighborhood and 2) to increase the use of “call language” in each ministry, in order to better form disciples in the practice of discerning vocation. Ascension has already laid out some concrete steps for how they will begin to push towards these two outcomes. Come this Fall, the church will distribute a survey to congregants in Mass, as well as a longer survey for ministry leaders. For its annual Fall Conference, Ascension plans to bring in coaches and speakers who can “train the trainers,” providing coaching and training for parish ministry leaders in discerning and developing a culture of calling. The local C3 team at Ascension will then carry forward this mentoring and coaching aspect as they lead their local ministry leaders in vocational training throughout the year. At the end of 2018, Ascension will distribute another congregational survey at Mass and for ministry leaders to acquire another helpful data point for assessment and feedback. Finally, Ascension will begin the good work of translating Kathleen Kahalan’s The Stories We Liveinto Spanish.

 

Church of the Apostles, an Anglican congregation in Fairfield, CT, is planning to live into its dream of becoming a faithful non-anxious presence in Fairfield. Coming to know their own callings, and then helping others figure out their callings, will be foundational for making this dream a reality. Because Church of the Apostles is a smaller congregation (compared to many of our other C3 churches) with limited resources, the practical approach is to infuse a culture of calling into what the church is already doing. Part of the strategy will be to integrate assessment tools into already up-and-running ministries to find out where and how calling is coming into play. Beginning in January, the church will begin implementing “monthly family table,” a ministry that they hope will provide more intimate spaces where journeys and stories of calling can be shared in an informal, intergenerational setting. In the simplest sense, the church hopes these events will give congregants a chance to simply be present with one another and to get to know a little bit more about each other’s lives and dreams. From that, the church hopes, will spring conversations around calling. Church of the Apostles also wants to provide a framework for congregants to live into the lives they’ve already been called to, and to help them explore how to live into that calling in a way that benefits the larger church and serves the body of Christ. So, for instance, there are three talented bakers in the congregation, who will begin making bread regularly for the church as a ministry of hospitality while also living into their calling. Finally, creating a culture of calling in Fairfield will require incorporating intentional spiritual direction for people in transition, whether empty nesters, young people traveling off for college or work, or mid-life adults trying to juggle work and family. Undergirding this spiritual direction is a conviction that callings don’t simply happen to us as we experience life, but must be discerned in community.

 

Finally, Metropolitan AME in Washington, DC has also set out with inspiring and ambitious plans for creating a culture of calling. At the 180-year-old church, creating new cultural structures requires living into the strengths that have rooted the congregation for decades. As such, the C3 team mission at Metropolitan has been made clear: to create an intergenerational culture of calling by embracing “the beloved community” through worship, liberation, and service, where the church will strive to be both deeply spiritual and deeply engaged in the world. The team plans to implement this great vision on the ground through several different approaches. First, the church will create a resource website in order to tell the C3 story and mission and encourage others to begin telling their own stories of calling, where they have come from and where they are going. Second, the team would like to “tighten their glossary,” the language and dialects they use to explain and communicate calling within the congregation. The team recognizes that language is a powerful tool, and can either diminish or empower a culture of calling. Third, the C3 team at Metropolitan will broaden as they seek to add new members to create a “core and more” structure. The team hopes to add talented individuals to help out with design and PR, while also finding more clarity from church leadership about their commission. After establishing these structural and foundational elements, the team plans to hit the ground with two programs. First, they will create a church-wide discipleship curriculum, one that fits with who the congregation is and who they have been called to be. Second, the team will work on designing a workshop series based off of Kathleen Kahalan’s The Stories We Live. The program will consists of 6-8 workshop events with teaching from the pastoral leadership team. The C3 team hopes to implement some of these workshops before the church-wide homecoming event, where congregants and alumni will be able to tell their stories via an NPR-inspired “story booth.”

 

These are just a few of the many stories from our C3 churches, all of whom are excited to make a lasting impact by creating cultures of calling in their congregations!

-Dr. Wen Reagan

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