Reimagining Church

Thriving Congregations Initiative: New Models for the 21st Century

We Have a Lot of Work To Do


Joe is a member of the Working Group at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Today, he shares his thoughts on our Visionary Leaders meeting with Tyler Sit, which occurred on October 9, 2021. ~

There were so many great-takeaways from Tyler that resonated with me and other working group members who were able to attend on Saturday.

Some highlights (paraphrased) were:
- He said there is optimism and anger in his church - ‘deep anger but also deep hope’. He asked, ‘what are the deep pain and longings in our church?’
- ‘Be responsive to the community and communicate with the community.’
- ‘Be your own church, don’t try to be another New City Church.’
- ‘Innovate to help people who really need it. Build relationships with people before they really need the help.’
- ‘Be a good church, not a ‘bad’ something else’ (social service, fitness center…).’
- ‘Focus on the common ground, the gospel, on Jesus.’
- ‘Iterate, be consistent, be timely, set an end date for things’. ‘Have the lean ministry framework in our minds - it’s a structured way to get buy-in from the congregation and the community.’
- ‘Don’t hang on to dead ministries and committees.’
- ‘We are stewards of momentum.’
- Have the ears to hear it, and the heart to receive it.’

Listening to Tyler, the initial overriding thought about our church is that we have a lot of work to do!!!

We need to determine who we are as a congregation and what we want to become. There is an untapped group of people waiting for us, looking for something, looking for help, to get better. We have to try and figure out how to reach them and have them join us.

To do this, we need to listen to and communicate with our church leaders, our congregation, and especially our community about their concerns, their needs and wants. We need to take a good hard look at who we are, what we are doing well, what not so well.

There are a lot of opportunities within our church and the community to engage and grow. What can we do better to make a more inviting, vibrant and thriving church. We need to take a survey within our congregation to determine needs and wants. Refresh the survey every year or so, to be timely and responsive.

An essential part of the process coming out of the listening/communicating, is identifying and refining our non-negotiables - things that our church must be. Based on these non-negotiables, we need to develop an initial defined mission statement (bullet points are fine), and refine it as the process moves along. It’s an on-going, continuous process of improvement, of change for the better.

We need to look at what our resources are - people, time, money, worship space, community space, outdoor space… and make the best use of them. What technology do we have? What do we need? What can we do to make the best use of the technology? One thing we need is more engaged people.

How do we get more folks interested in lending a helping hand, mind, talent, expertise…Many hands make light work for everyone and benefits all. There are many opportunities. They are there for sure. What we can free-up or reallocate to new and better things. How can we leverage what we have and expand on it. We need to be innovative in our approach.

We need to advertise to let the community know we’re here. Are we even doing any advertising now? We need to determine how best to reach out to the community - people, businesses, groups, other churches…

We need to collaborate with other churches, community organizations, businesses…We are doing some collaboration now, but does anyone except those directly involved know what’s going on? What are we doing? We need to figure out how to get more people involved, to maximize the impact.

We need to challenge the status quo. We can’t fall back and continue to do what we’ve been doing, just because we’ve been doing it that way. We need new voices to get involved and question things, come up with new ideas and suggest new things.

There are also many good things that we have in our church. Most importantly our leadership and people are top shelf. Many of our programs are top shelf, or at least have been top shelf in the past. Some of those that need to continue need to be revived, and supported. Those that shouldn’t continue we should let go of.

~ We look forward to meeting with Tyler one-on-one to put these needs in perspective, and discern within our context.