A church on the verge of closing its doors brings in a new leader. With nothing to lose, this leader and its congregation thinks imaginatively and innovatively to become a church that thrives rather than merely survives. Liturgy. Music. Organizational structure. Refugees. Education. Homelessness. Contemplative Prayer. Theatre. These are just some of the areas that they ‘played’ with in an attempt to open its doors, listen to, and establish meaningful and long lasting relationships with those in the community. Today this church ministers to hundreds of people each week in a myriad of ways. And they are not satisfied. They continue to experiment with all kinds of ideas in response to a fluid society and community around.
This is just one of dozens of exciting stories of thriving congregations across Canada. The Flourishing Congregations Institute, at Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta, is interested in the signs of life and vitality across Catholic, mainline, and conservative Protestant congregations in Canada.
In collaboration with NewScoop, the Flourishing Congregations Institute is hosting four conversations sharing what they have learned about the hallmarks of thriving faith communities, Thrive or Survive? Faith Communities in Canada.
On October 30 at 12:00 pm MST Director – Dr. Joel Thiessen (Professor of Sociology) – provides an overview of several key elements to arise from interviews and focus groups with over 110 leaders in five Canadian regions. Namely, what do leaders of thriving congregations identify as important for defining a “flourishing congregation”? What do they claim to have experienced in their settings? The discussion will center on three overarching domains related to organizational ethos, inward factors, and outward variables. Within these we focus on things such as clear self-identity, leadership, innovation, structures and processes, discipleship, engaged laity, hospitable community, diversity, neighborhood involvement, evangelism, and partnerships.
This is the first of four sessions in the coming months. We hope to open up a conversation, where this list is laid bare for scrutiny, dialogue, and insights with those across Canada in varying Christian traditions. How do these findings resonate with your experiences? What is missing? What alternatives would you suggest? What difference do these findings make? How might congregations currently seeking to survive become communities that thrive?
For more information about the Flourishing Congregations Institute, visit us at www.flourishingcongregations.org.