After taking stock of the full range of gifts in your church and community, it’s time to move from inventory and celebration to getting curious about everything your congregation has noticed and experienced. Invite the congregation to gather around tables for storytelling. Sharing a meal together provides a great reason for people to come and fuels the conversational energy. Set the vibe by bringing the visual gifts display and the accompanying responses into the meeting space, and get people excited by explaining how their participation will contribute to movement into the church’s next season of ministry.
Include the following in the congregational conversation:
Worship together. Invite the congregation, as an offering to God, to name aloud responses to the following. Have someone write them down as they are voiced. Be sure that people of all ages are included in this offering.
- Skills and stories of individuals encountered in the community
- Personal experiences in the community
- Observations about the community, especially what surprised, delighted, and challenged
Distribute the information compiled from studying the demographics and naming local leaders, and gather around tables to discuss the following questions. Ensure there is a facilitator and a scribe for each conversation group. It is important to have someone who is prepared to keep the conversation on track and ensure all the voices are heard.
- Who are our neighbors?
- How is God at work in/around/through our neighbors?
- Where might we join in that good work?
- What are the challenges in our community?
- Who is affected by them?
- Who is already doing good work around them? How might we support them?
Close with prayers of thanks for your neighbors and for wisdom and faithfulness in using your gifts. Be sure to collate the accumulated responses after the gathering.
Next week’s post will take the noticing and curiosity to beginning to put ministry initiatives on paper.