What We’re Learning: Reflections on Thriving


As we continue our work with the 28 Churches in our Thriving Congregations Project, we’re leading cohort meetings with them to reflect on their first set of “ministry experiments.” We’re exploring how these experiments furthered their growth in 10 broad areas of congregational life. 

Note how different the measures listed below contrast with the “success measures” that have marked the conventional American church for the last several generations—worship attendance, buildings, and budgets. Our markers, in contrast, are based on what thriving looked like in the early church. What helped these early followers of Jesus mature from a fearful group of post-Resurrection disciples to a movement that changed the culture of the world just a few centuries later? As you read and reflect on them yourself, join us at Vibrant Faith as we pray for the thriving of of all Christian communities…   

Are we:

  • Creating an inclusive, welcoming, and inviting culture of hospitality where outsiders are treated like insiders?
  • Helping members build intentional, deep, authentic, and inclusive friendships at church where they care for and encourage each other in life and faith?
  • Creating a candid and caring congregation that addresses difficult issues and what matters in people’s lives?
  • Introducing and demonstrating ways that people can talk about and practice faith in their daily lives?
  • Creating opportunities for people within our church to be visible expressions of God’s love in our community?
  • Becoming deeply networked with other Christian churches?
  • Partnering with agencies, involved with needs or issues in our context?
  • Developing a culture openness and experimentation?
  • Increasing our capacity to manage anxiety and fear?
  • Increasing our capacity to be present to God and one another?

We asked our churches to reflect on…

  1. What movement they are celebrating in each of these areas?
  2. What needs greater attention?
  3. What have we learned in the last year?  

How about you?  

Dr. Nancy Going serves as the Director of Research & Resource Development for Vibrant Faith. Nancy lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband Art, an Anglican priest, and they have launched two new families from their children.


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