What will a thriving congregation look like after a global pandemic? Closer to home, what will a thriving congregation look like in a city that’s just witnessed the unconscionable killing of George Floyd at the hands of police; a state with one of the highest opportunity disparities across people of different races? We believe the initiative works to address these questions, as well as the Lutheran catechism question, “What does it mean to love God and neighbor today?” We are excited to invite a select group of congregations to wrestle deeply with this question. In each two-year phase of our proposed initiative, 15 churches will be selected to participate. One congregational cohort will include five “like-sized” congregations, another will include five “like-mission” congregations, and the third, five ELCA and African Methodist Episcopal congregations serving “adjacent neighborhoods.” Each of the congregations will be represented by five leaders. Thus, 75 congregational leaders will be trained during each phase, 150 over four years. Cohort groups will learn faith practices and neighboring practices from experts and each other. The groups will be well coached, committed to meet monthly, and given the tools to immediately teach the practices they are learning to their own congregations. We will partner with the Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement (a new organization birthed by four congregations, the synod, and two social service organizations). In addition, we will partner with the Christensen Center for Vocation at Augsburg University, not only for their models of public church, but to co-host the summit for our congregations at the end of each two-year cycle.
Faith Practices and Neighboring Practices