The Church is Not Dying

10 days. 3 Storytelling Workshops: Church Retreat, Narrative Lectionary Work Days at Luther Seminary and Cross+Gen Ministry Tour with Faith Ink.  And 1 Rethinking Church Conference.

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I met people from Maryland, South Carolina, Vermont, and California. I presented in front of 100 people over three different events, and met at least another 50 more. I talked story, and I listened to theirs:

  1. Tod Bolsinger, professor at Fuller Seminary and author of the book Canoeing the Mountains, talked about how churches need to be the local missionary. (His presentation inspired me to try something new: Of late, there has been some violence in the neighborhood. So when I went to work the next day, I called the rec center near my congregation. My conversation with the director was inspiring as we’ve decided to create a faith formation class for families this fall. Topics will include reconciliation, meditation, and healing.)
  2. Bolsinger also said, “What doesn’t produce change is fear, facts and force. But what does produce change is relate (creating new communities), repeat (new practices), and reframe (new ways of thinking). It must be radical not just tweaking! (Rethinking event)
  3. “It takes time time to try something new. You must lay the ground work before creating change” (Mary Pechauer)
  4. “To make change in a church, cast a vision, validate people’s experience to the change, then cast the vision again.”  It’s a wash, rinse and repeat method. (Amy Kippen)
  5. “Once you tell one story to another person it is amazing how you end up telling another story and then another. The stories are just what connects us all.”  (Participant at a church retreat.)
  6. “I never thought about doing storytelling IN worship as a way to help people remember God’s story.” (Participant at the NL Workdays)
  7. “Are you just that gifted in this area [starting new congregations]?” This was a question posed to Jodi Houge of Humble Walk. She gently reminded the participants that everyone has gifts to be used. (Rethinking Church Event)
  8. Teaching the liturgical greeting with hand motions, Jen said, “You can do theology with your body! We are not meant to leave our bodies at the door. But to use them to worship God.” (Jennifer Rome)
  9. “Faith5: Share, Read, Talk, Pray, Bless in every home, every night.” (Rich Melheim)
  10. “The hardest three words one learns to say is not ‘I love you’ or even ‘I forgive you.’ It’s ‘I don’t know.'” (Tod Bolsinger)
  11. No matter if I was the leader or participate, the fact is that we never should stop learning something new. “After 40, learning something new is what keeps the mind fresh!” (Rich Melheim)

It’s a wonder how much one can learn in 10 days. My mind is flooded with new names and contacts, lots of ideas and a reassurance of what’s to come. But the best thing is that I remembered something I already knew.

12. “The church is not dying. It’s just changing as it always has done.” (HRJ)



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