A lawyer approached Jesus, putting him to the test with this question: “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus’ response was simple, if not easy. He said it was about love of God (with all your heart and soul and mind) and love of neighbor as self.
That singular emphasis on love of God and neighbor provides the foundation for RenewalWorks, a ministry in the Episcopal Church that focuses on spiritual growth by deepening love of God and neighbor in the lives of congregations, in the lives of ministries that animate those congregations, and in the lives of the individuals who bring life to those ministries.
When the details of life press in, parishes, like individuals, can inadvertently move away from this singular, simple focus on discipleship to the more mundane but necessary actions of running a church: property and building upkeep, annual stewardship campaigns and recruiting volunteers.
RenewalWorks is a catalyst for refocusing parishes (and the individuals in them) on spiritual vitality. It has been tailored to the Episcopal tradition, adapting 10 years of research that has uncovered key characteristics of flourishing congregations. It will inspire your congregation and leadership to rediscover who Jesus is, and what it means to follow him. Through a guided methodology of self-reflection, sharing and workshop discussion, RenewalWorks challenges parishes to refocus on spiritual growth and to identify ways that God is calling them to grow.
Specific outcomes of the RenewalWorks process are unique to each parish, reflecting that community’s specific challenges and opportunities. They lead to the creation of specific congregation-wide growth initiatives which clarify and elevate expectations for clergy, lay leaders and individuals.
If you are seeking a way to deepen your congregation’s relationship with God, with neighbor, with self and with the world, we invite you to explore RenewalWorks.
How the Program Works:
The RenewalWorks process begins with an anonymous, confidential, online inventory (Episcopal Spiritual Life Inventory) taken by congregants, exploring that individual’s spiritual life. When the responses are viewed as a group, the inventory provides a snapshot of the spiritual vitality of the congregation. The data is supported by additional research information from more than 1,800 churches (of all denominations) and almost 500,000 congregants.
A congregation leadership team is gathered to delve into the specifics of the inventory data over four guided workshops. This group contemplates the following questions, one at each workshop:
- Where have we been?
- Where are we now?
- Where do we feel called to go?
- How will we get there?
What is the connection to Forward Movement?
Forward Movement is often best known for its quarterly book of daily devotions, Forward Day by Day. The organization began in 1935, a time of anxiety and decline in the Episcopal Church, as a way to reinvigorate the church with a focus on discipleship, prayer, and scripture. RenewalWorks fits well into this mission and seeks to provide an updated methodology in support of this mission. Led by the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, RenewalWorks has been explored by many churches around the country.