studio e3: congregational renewal
My name is Amy Delaney and I am excited to begin a new ministry with Northwest Coast Presbytery titled “Studio E3.” I like to describe this ministry as one of connecting pastors, sessions and congregations with the resources they need to move in the direction of renewal and revitalization. E3 refers to the NWC purpose, to Engage, Equip and Encourage (E3) the congregations and leadership within our presbytery.
Have you noticed that the only experts on parenting are parents of a single child? It’s easy to be certain about what is the right thing to do when you only have one example. Once the second child comes along, most parents realize that this parenting gig is harder than they thought. Churches are similar. Each church presents different characteristics, gifts, traits and opportunities. It’s like Jesus’ parable of the talents. Each church has been given its own sack of talents – and they are not alike. No one approach to renewal or revitalization will or should fit all churches. Thankfully, there are a variety of resources, programs, ideas and opportunities out there for consideration when it’s time to explore something new.
I have been part of Northwest Coast Presbytery since 2010, serving as Pastor of Edmonds Presbyterian Church. I have also served as a member and co-moderator of the Commission on Ministry. Before my ministry here, I served in Seattle Presbytery as a designated pastor, parish associate, temporary pastor, and on various other assignments for their COM. I continue to serve as a Spiritual Director, helping individuals hear the voice of God in their lives. I look forward to serving the Presbytery in this new role.
You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by any of the other options listed in the Presbytery directory.
“Where are they now?” These words are often the start of a story about someone who has had their 15 minutes of fame and then disappeared completely from the news. Do you remember the books that were handed out at the Verge conference last year, in 2017? I began to wonder, “Where are they now?” One was Alan Roxburgh’s book “Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church in Our Time.” [https://www.amazon.com/Joining-Remaking-Church-Changing-World/dp/0819232114 Here’s what happened to my book: Like many of you, I took a copy and was interested in what Roxburgh had to say. He acknowledges that the church is in a time of change. The old structures are “unraveling” and new ideas are emerging. What hasn’t changed is God. God is still at work in our churches. And God is already at work “ahead of us” in our neighborhoods. Roxburgh invites his readers to get out there and see how God is at work. Sounded interesting, but then I put the book back on my shelf last fall and didn’t think about it much after that.
But not everyone put the book on the shelf. Wondering “Where are they now?” it turns out that several churches took the book to heart. Our brothers and sisters in the three Bellingham churches – Birchwood, First, and St. James- read the book, and took it to heart.
More about Studio E3 – Congregational Renewal and Revitalization
In addition to serving as your Studio E3 Catalyst, I am also the pastor of Edmonds Presbyterian Church. I know how many resources cross my desk, arrive in my email, or are recommended as “the best” by my colleagues who serve in different circumstances. It’s challenging to know what to invest my time and my leadership’s time in pursuing as we seek to understand our congregation’s history and plan for its future. In this role, I will be dedicating my time to learning more about the available resources and for which situations they are best suited, with the goal of being able to answer the questions you may have about which resources to consider.
To get us started, I am delighted that at VERGE 2.0 you received a booklet about Vital Congregations. (If you were unable to attend VERGE 2.0, you may find the resource here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/vital-congregations-immediate-toolkit/ ) Take it home, read it, share the survey in the center of the book with your congregation’s leadership. You may want to consider using the devotional at the back of the book for your next seven session meetings. I’m excited to see what God brings to the forefront as your particular strengths and growing edges. And of course, I am available to help answer the questions of “what next?” and “How do we become a more vital congregation?”
It is my goal to offer you regular updates on what I am learning, and to recommend the “best” of all that to you for your own further growth in ministry. The Executive Board has set a goal that each of our congregations by 2023 will be vital in ministry, aware of their congregation’s particular position on the lifecycle of congregations, and have access to appropriate resources to pursue increased vitality.
By 2023, they also recognize that there will be additional congregations that have completed their lifecycle, faithfully ending the season of ministry that God had for that particular community. It is the Presbytery’s commitment that these endings be well stewarded, that the charisms of a particular church’s ministry continue to bless the community in which they were planted, nurturing ministries or mission causes. And, yes, there are excellent resources to consider when helping a congregation move toward the faithful completion of their ministry. And sharing those resources is also part of this E3 position.
I invite you to join me on this journey toward vitality in our congregations. If you have resources to recommend, pass them on! Here is a story of how 3 Bellingham congregations are working together with Rev. Al Roxburgh to move back into their neighborhoods and encourage imagination in their ministries.
I welcome coffee and conversation with colleagues … So, give me a call, shoot me an email, let’s talk.
Rev. Amy Delaney
Studio E3 Catalyst