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What Did You Learn at the Church Vitality Event?

A sampler of email and Facebook responses to the Church Vitality Event held Friday & Saturday February 19 & 20, 2010 at First Congregational Church, Long Beach:

Rev. Rich Freeman, Community Congregational Church (UCC) in Chula Vista:  I feel this was the best vitality event to date, largely because of the topics. I believe they were “right-on” in terms of what churches need to hear.  I had seven of my members present and we all returned to Chula Vista “fired up” by what we learned. We are going to begin implementing some of the ideas this coming Sunday and will have “For God’s Sake, Do Something” moments in worship throughout Lent.  Great job planning team!

Rev. Jon Edwards, Bethel Congregational UCC:  That if we don’t do something, our denomination will cease to exist in 20 years and anybody, any process, any institution that stands in the way of the needed reforms to prevent that from happening are ultimately responsible for that demise.  I also know that God won’t let that happen and so also know that she will remove those people, processes, and institutions that stand in the way of reform.  To which I say “Thanks be to God.  And, if I’m one of them, fix me or ditch me.”

Rev. David Kruegger-Duncan, Northwest Community Church UCC in Las Vegas, offered a series of comments:

    • “Mike (Rev. Michael Piazza, from the Center for Progressive Renewal) had a lot to say about trying and failing.  We talked in the car about how a program or idea in a church setting is treated like it was from God.  If it fails there is great shame and the revelation that it wasn’t from God because God’s ideas don’t fail.  Teaching the church that ideas are just that.  Failure is a risk for any idea.  And failure can be assumed to happen often without it indicating that God has abandoned us is an important thing to teach a congregation and its leadership.
    • We adopted Mike’s benediction: The worship is over… the service now begins…
    • Northwest has always felt dogged by how many move out of state that it seems like we can’t hope to grow sometimes.  But we haven’t buried 1,500 people and absorbed all that grief.  We need to get over the circumstance that people move out of Vegas and believe we can grow anyway.
    • Don’t adopt their programs… adopt their methods.
    • Believe that any format for worship can be successful
    • Strive VERY HARD for quality.
    • You don’t need staff to do everything.  If the worship is great the staff will be able to watch the worshipers invade the world with the love of God.  They’ll be back next Sunday.  Be ready for them.
    • I don’t have to love Vegas any more than Mike loves Dallas.

Rev. Betty Sue Sherrod, First Congregational UCC in Santa Barbara: “I learned so much that my mind was blown! This was an event that continues to challenge me in ways that other events just never approached. I’m going to have to take some time to process this material, but I think this was exactly what I needed when I needed it!”

Want to share what you learned at the Church Vitality Event?  Add you comments below,  visit the Conference’s Facebook Page or send an e-mail to roberts@scncucc.org

The Planning Team will meet soon to begin planning next year’s event.  And the Church Development Implementation Team announced at the recent Vitality Event a plan to make this kind of training available year-round.  We’d love to hear your ideas.  (roberts@scncucc.org)

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