video of larry intro-ing VC and initial reasons for starting VC.
like: needs of some other congregations are not currently being met well.
Current efforts, while good, do not adequately address the vital needs of all congregations.
develop a new approach or capacity—a partnership for church renewal

Vibrant Congregations is a doorway to renewal.


Although Vibrant Congregations is not a renewal organization; we are really good at helping congregations find their best partner for renewal.

A lot of work went into developing the Vibrancy Pathway, a conversational and interactive approach involving church leadership in discovering their best partner.

To assure that leadership listens well, we provide  tools to listen to the voice of God, the voice of the congregation, and the voice of leadership.

This listening leads to a Friday/Saturday guided event where all information is gathered and reflected on.

This information leads to an Insights report and suggestions for a renewal partner.

Congregations engaging the Vibrancy Pathway find it a helpful and wonderful tool for

direct-
ion

This way of helping congregation cut through the clutter was the reason that the RCA and CRC committed to work through Vibrant for all renewal work in the original grant request from the DeVos foundation. The executive summary of the original grant stated:

The co-leaders, steering committee, and the reformed vision team are unanimous in recommending the creation of a joint RCA CRC unit to provide congregational renewal and transformation for both denominations.

This new capability will enhance the teamwork between ministries and ministry staff at their point of engagement with congregations. The capability will have a focus on prayerful discernment of what is needed for each congregation, on collaboration that catalyzes innovation, and will embrace the current capabilities of both denominations involved in this work.

The work of Vibrant (RPCR) was pictured as follows with a commitment to engaging Vibrant to be the front door for renewal work in both denominations.

Image

Congregations also asked for a place to go for renewal resources. Vibrant Congregation’s response comes in several areas...


Vibrant Congregations joyfully comes alongside churches to open the RIGHT door to their God-given, hope-filled future.

We have worked with many congregations over the recent past that have benefited from building a relationship with Vibrant. They have chosen their door and are experiencing that hope-filled future.


Image
Creating Greater Denominational Collaboration

Creating greater collaboration in church renewal is not only about local congregations. Another goal of Vibrant is to bring collaboration between renewal efforts in the denominations and outside renewal partners.

Vibrant Congregations has pursued this informally by sharing information about work being done in renewal with partners.

Formally Vibrant Congregations has gathered two partner round tables to discuss best renewal practices and to learn what’s next in the world of renewal.

We are also participating in the Thriving Churches Lilly Grants of both denominations.


Looking
to
the
future
-
a
renewal
champion.

Renewal

Champion
renewal

Since its inception two years ago Vibrant Congregations has observed the work of renewal in the RCA, CRCNA, and our outside partners. A number of things Vibrant has noted:

  1. Neither denomination seems to have a renewal champion whose main work it is to speak out for renewal in the denominations, sits at all the right tables to encourage a renewal mindset, stays on top of renewal trends, coordinates all of the renewal opportunities  so they are readily available to the churches. Vibrant does some of this work but is not recognized in either system as the renewal champion.
  2. There is an increasing desire in churches to discern their present reality and find fitting next steps.
  3. Neither denomination has a robust system of coaches trained in wise coaching and renewal tools.
  4. The lack of a robust system of coaches, tools, and partners means we have a limited capacity to serve congregations. The hope of serving 100 congregations a year in some sort of renewal process will be possible only when our systems are robust enough to do so.
  5. Working with churches seeking a way forward there are what Vibrant calls “The Big Three and Hidden One”
    1. The need to renew vision, mission and values
    2. The need for a clear discipleship pathway
    3. The need to connect with the local community
    4. Understanding Mental Models and Church Culture so movement can happen (The hidden one)
Proposal 1Vibrant Congregations becomes Renewal Champion for the RCA and CRC

Vibrant proposes that we become the renewal champion in the RCA and CRC. Being the renewal champion means

  1. Being responsible for being the voice of renewal
  2. Being responsible for watching renewal trends and keeping both denominations informed
  3. Being responsible for creating a network of regional renewal coaches that can be shared across denominations. These coaches would contract directly with churches that have gone through Vibrancy Pathway so there would be minimal cost to the denominations.
  4. Being responsible for gathering the different renewal opportunities in both denominations.
  5. Being responsible for defining what makes for renewal in local congregation so we can discern whether a partner/agency is involved in renewal or is providing a different service to a congregation.
  6. Being invited into conversations and spaces in both denominations where Vibrant can speak up for renewal.
Proposal 2Vibrant Congregations as Doorway to Renewal In CRC and RCA

Vibrant proposes that we become the renewal doorway for congregations. Being the renewal doorway means

  1. Churches always have a place they can go when they seek renewal.
  2. Churches have a one stop shop space to connect for the beginning of their renewal journey (e.g. under “Church Renewal” on the RCA website Vibrant would have an video introduction congregations to Vibrant as the RCA’s doorway to renewal; this gives congregations a face and name as they seek their future not simply a link to follow).
  3. Both denominations integrate Vibrant into their systems in such a way that it is possible to name Vibrant as the primary doorway to church renewal.
  4. Vibrant continues as a separate 501c3 so it can serve both denominations (and possibly others as well).
  5. The RCA and CRC collaborate to find an ongoing funding stream for Vibrant (approximately $300,000 a year beginning with CRCNA fiscal year 2023-2024).
  6. The present cut backs in staff and services in both denominations mean congregations may feel less connection to the denomination and they may not be able to find a pathway to renewal help. This lack of connection may deepen a congregations sense that the denomination is not there for them—which can have financial implications.
  7. We need a way forward that serves congregations and works within our new financial realities
Count me in

Creating Greater Collaboration for Church Renewal

The genius behind Vibrant Congregations is listening and responding to congregations. Through a series of listening sessions conducted in 2018 churches asked for some to cut through the clutter of the many renewal opportunities by having an organization that helps churches find their best path to renewal. In the words of the grant proposal

  1. Current needs of some other congregations are not currently being met well due in part to lack of knowledge about what is available or lack of readiness for change.
  2. Current efforts, while good, do not adequately address the vital needs of all congregations — helping them identify the right resource at the right time with the right implementation support; present processes do not draw on the best of both denominations.
  3. There is an opportunity to develop a new approach or capacity—a partnership for church renewal—which complements and enhances existing denominational work and creates better alignment with congregational needs

Central to Vibrant’s work is being this organization. Vibrant is a doorway to renewal. Vibrant is not a renewal organization; we help congregations find their best partner for renewal. A lot of work went into developing the Vibrancy Pathway, a conversational and interactive approach involving church leadership in discovering their best partner. To assure that leadership listens well, there are tools to listen to the voice of God, the voice of the congregation, and the voice of leadership. This listening leads to a Friday/Saturday guided event where all information is gathered and reflected on. This information leads to an Insights report and suggestions for a renewal partner.

Congregations engaging the Vibrancy Pathway find it helpful and a wonderful direction setting tool.

This way of helping congregation cut through the clutter was the reason that the RCA and CRC committed to work through Vibrant for all renewal work in the original grant request from the DeVos foundation. The executive summary of the original grant stated

The co-leaders, steering committee, and the reformed vision team are unanimous in recommending the creation of a joint RCA CRC unit to provide congregational renewal and transformation for both denominations.

This new capability will enhance the teamwork between ministries and ministry staff at their point of engagement with congregations. The capability will have a focus on prayerful discernment of what is needed for each congregation, on collaboration that catalyzes innovation, and will embrace the current capabilities of both denominations involved in this work.

The work of Vibrant (RPCR) was pictured as follows with a commitment to engaging Vibrant to be the front door for renewal work in both denominations.  

Renewal Resources

Congregations also asked for a place to go for renewal resources. Vibrant’s response comes in several areas

  1. Vibrant’s web resource section: The resource section brings resources around multiple areas of renewal including shaping our mission, shaping our future and soul care.
  2. Vibrant’s Leadership Devotional: The leadership devotional gathers diverse leadership voices to help pastors and other church leaders navigate this moment. Between 250 and 300 pastors read this weekly devotional.
  3. Church Now Conversations: A monthly Zoom gathering with leading evangelical thinkers and leaders helps church leaders work wisely in our changing times. Between 40 and 100 pastors join this monthly conversation.
  4. Vibrant Innovate: Vibrant’s research and development arm is exercising a holy imagination in multiple areas
      1. Imagining what ministry looks like in a secular world where people don't care about the church or God.
      2. Moving from a healthy church paradigm to a missional paradigm
      3. Helping congregations work and live in a liminal space
      4. Moving from Vision/Mission thinking to Loves/Story imagination 
      5. Working to discern what church renewal actually is for congregations in their context
  5. Vibrant Blogs: Vibrant writes for the CRC Network and the RCA’s Faithward

Creating Greater Denominational Collaboration

Creating greater collaboration in church renewal is not only about local congregations. Another goal of Vibrant is to bring collaboration between renewal efforts in the denominations and outside renewal partners. Vibrant has pursued this informally by sharing information about work being done in renewal with partners. Formally Vibrant has gathered two partner round tables to discuss best renewal practices and to learn what’s next in the world of renewal. We are also participating in the Thriving Churches Lilly Grants of both denominations. 

Looking to the Future — A Renewal Champion

Since its inception two years ago Vibrant Congregations has observed the work of renewal in the RCA, CRCNA, and our outside partners. A number of things Vibrant has noted

  1. Neither denomination seems to have a renewal champion whose main work it is to speak out for renewal in the denominations, sits at all the right tables to encourage a renewal mindset, stays on top of renewal trends, coordinates all of the renewal opportunities  so they are readily available to the churches. Vibrant does some of this work but is not recognized in either system as the renewal champion.
  2. There is an increasing desire in churches to discern their present reality and find fitting next steps.
  3. Neither denomination has a robust system of coaches trained in wise coaching and renewal tools.
  4. The lack of a robust system of coaches, tools, and partners means we have a limited capacity to serve congregations. The hope of serving 100 congregations a year in some sort of renewal process will be possible only when our systems are robust enough to do so.
  5. Working with churches seeking a way forward there are what Vibrant calls “The Big Three and Hidden One”
    1. The need to renew vision, mission and values
    2. The need for a clear discipleship pathway
    3. The need to connect with the local community
    4. Understanding Mental Models and Church Culture so movement can happen (The hidden one)

Below are two proposals. Vibrant invites the CRC and RCA into a conversation with us to discern if pursuing these two proposals is important to our congregations, our denominations and if Vibrant can fill the calling of renewal champion and doorway to renewal in a helpful way. While the proposals can be separated, Vibrant believes that they are best held together in an overall renewal effort.

Our conversation together may also name other ideas, changes, etc. that are helpful to refining these proposals.

Proposal 1

Vibrant Congregations becomes Renewal Champion for the RCA and CRC

Vibrant proposes that we become the renewal champion in the RCA and CRC. Being the renewal champion means

  1. Being responsible for being the voice of renewal
  2. Being responsible for watching renewal trends and keeping both denominations informed
  3. Being responsible for creating a network of regional renewal coaches that can be shared across denominations. These coaches would contract directly with churches that have gone through Vibrancy Pathway so there would be minimal cost to the denominations.
  4. Being responsible for gathering the different renewal opportunities in both denominations.
  5. Being responsible for defining what makes for renewal in local congregation so we can discern whether a partner/agency is involved in renewal or is providing a different service to a congregation.
  6. Being invited into conversations and spaces in both denominations where Vibrant can speak up for renewal.

Proposal 2

Vibrant Congregations as Doorway to Renewal In CRC and RCA

Vibrant proposes that we become the renewal doorway for congregations. Being the renewal doorway means

  1. Churches always have a place they can go when they seek renewal. 
  2. Churches have a one stop shop space to connect for the beginning of their renewal journey (e.g. under “Church Renewal” on the RCA website Vibrant would have an video introduction congregations to Vibrant as the RCA’s doorway to renewal; this gives congregations a face and name as they seek their future not simply a link to follow).
  3. Both denominations integrate Vibrant into their systems in such a way that it is possible to name Vibrant as the primary doorway to church renewal.
  4. Vibrant continues as a separate 501c3 so it can serve both denominations (and possibly others as well).
  5. The RCA and CRC collaborate to find an ongoing funding stream for Vibrant (approximately $300,000 a year beginning with CRCNA fiscal year 2023-2024).
  6. The present cut backs in staff and services in both denominations mean congregations may feel less connection to the denomination and they may not be able to find a pathway to renewal help. This lack of connection may deepen a congregations sense that the denomination is not there for them—which can have financial implications.
  7. We need a way forward that serves congregations and works within our new financial realities