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Church vitality minister sets stage for vitality in churches

Courtney Stange Tregear said the ministry of church vitality is living into the call to deepen relationship, to do vitality we need to know each other.

Courtney Stange-Tregear, top, shares visual aid on vitality.

Christ’s presence and power in, through and among us so all people might thrive.

“Vitality means life,” she said. “Vital churches do not start with a vitality study but doing the work of ministry God calls us to do.

“We can provide conditions for seeds to grow,” she said, pointing up that different seeds need different conditions.

Planted in a hydroponic system, basil may shoot up but mint may not grow because mint is hard to start from a seed. Once the plant takes off, however, it grows.

Courtney has visited PNC churches and shared a diagram of “vitality” at the center of intersecting circles of “do justice,” “love kindness” and “walk humbly” in the larger circle of congregational, collegial and communal life in the conference.

“A church might not shoot up yet from seeds, but we can’t shout at it to tell it to grow,” she said. 

“As churches come together, I have shared a diagram to help us think about the  of church vitality.  I updated the diagram to show that we are called to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly,” Courtney explained.

“We do not do well if we are not in relationship,” she said. 

How can we love our neighbor if we do not know our neighbor?  How can we know what we need if we do not talk about it?” she asked.

So she added a circle to represent relationships and the need for people in congregations to get to know one another.  

“The outer circle is the relational force,” she said.  “Small groups are opportunities for transformational listening as we each share a significant moment of our life.

“We need to be real together,” Courtney said.  “The air in room changes from us bringing our real selves into the room.” 

She saw that happen as participants in the fall PNC gathering at N-Sid-Sen formed a human chain with 80 people, stretching through the parking lot nearly to the road.

“Imagine what work we can do together as the chain reaching out into the world,” she said.
“We as 80 churches working together can do good things. Imagine what we can do together.”

Then those gathered at N-Sid-Sen listened to each other.

There were relational groups with peers—clergy-clergy and lay-lay—sharing as congregations and on an interpersonal level.

“Relationships stretch us to move outside into communities and other partners and people in the community,” she said.

“We need congregations to know their communities so they can reach into the community,” Courtney said. “Not enough of us listen to and relate to others.

“Why does it matter?” she asked.

“Bishop Roysten thinks when we do work together, we can change the whole damn world,” she said

“We don’t work to be better friends, know each other’s stories and have less conflict, but so we can change the world, so we can bring God’s work to earth and do what we are required to do: do justice, love kindness and walk humbly,” Courtney said.

She was setting the framework for later one-to-one listening sessions as a starting point for relationships and networking among participants at the Annual Meeting.

For information, call 260-725-8383.


Pacific Northwest United Church News © Summer 2018


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