In a world filled with options, opinions, and recommendation, listening is among the most essential presents we are able to provide each other. It’s an act of therapeutic and imaginative and prescient. For folks of religion and their communities, the reward of listening each to at least one one other and God gives a path to non secular renewal and grants congregations a imaginative and prescient of their id. In a time when congregations are experiencing a steep decline in membership and dealing with vital uncertainty, studying to pay attention deeply to at least one one other and in search of by means of listening to discern God’s path for a religion neighborhood’s future simply is likely to be probably the most essential acts a church can have interaction in.
Rev. Chad Abbott and I minister in a denomination (UCC) that believes “God remains to be talking.” The phrase expresses the truth that God is way more mysterious and far-reaching than we are able to perceive. Whereas the Bible continues to function the first supply of revelation for Christians, God remains to be being revealed to us on this world, in a tradition the traditional world couldn’t have imagined.
Sadly, it’s evident to us as leaders within the Mainline American church that many Christians have no idea pay attention for God, regardless of their deep longing to attach with a God who nonetheless speaks. Simply as particular person Christians battle to pay attention for God, religion communities labor to pay attention for God collectively. Many should not capable of decelerate and method church life in a reflective, contemplative method.
Chad and I’ve written “Incline Your Ear: Cultivating Religious Awakening in Congregations” (Fortress Press, 2021) to encourage non secular progress and vitality in religion communities on this listening pursuit. All through our ebook we share non secular practices designed to assist your congregation “incline its ear” towards God. Discover we used the singular “ear.” We consider congregations want to know themselves as unified — one physique, somewhat than a set of people. As we’re each non secular administrators, we clarify the ideas and practices of up to date non secular course in order that congregations can perceive and use them. We even define a “Congregational Religious Street Map” on the finish of every chapter with step-by-step directions for main non secular practices in consciousness of God, reflection on the congregation’s life collectively, discernment, and creating an motion plan to maneuver ahead on what’s discerned.
We consider this work is so essential. The world exterior church doorways won’t wait round for clergy to determine join contemplative life at house with congregational life at church, so naturally the spiritually curious flip to yoga studios, meditation mats, therapeutic stones, and spirituality apps — and who can blame them? But, the church has a deep and abiding custom of non secular practices that may assist non secular pilgrims in our time get to the center of their craving. Specifically, the work of non secular course has the potential to not solely improve non secular vitality within the church, however to push us towards congregational vitality that helps church buildings extra absolutely dwell out their mission on this planet in a time when a vibrant church is desperately wanted.
With every essential determination we make, with each relationship we construct, with each church mission assertion or ministry we design, and in issues of vocation and prophetic witness, the abilities of discernment and listening within the non secular life will make for important congregations. Whereas we face declining membership and generational shifts in loyalty to the church, it’s clear to us that it’s each a difficult, and thrilling time to be the church. Now we have the chance to think about a brand new future as we pay attention for God’s main. All of the non secular assets we have to turn into that newly-imagined and future church is already inside and round us if we are going to however incline our ear to the work of the Spirit.
Rev. Teresa Blythe is the director of the Phoenix Heart for Religious Route at First UCC Phoenix. Rev. Chad Abbott is Convention Minister for the Indiana-Kentucky Convention of the UCC. To buy Incline Your Ear: Cultivating Religious Awakening in Congregations go to our Augsburg Fortress Press web page or Amazon.