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Welcome to the VITALITY Resource page!

This page will grow as we develop and live into our commitment to vitality throughout the Florida-Bahamas Synod.

What is “Congregational Vitality”?

Congregational vitality is an intentional and informed process by which congregations can creatively pursue the future that God has planned for them.  It begins with an ancient prayer practice by which to encounter God’s Dreams for the immediate future.  It culminates with an awareness of the design by which God’s Dreams come true and an action plan to make it so.  In between is a disciples journey to build confidence, creativity, and character for the community called “church”.


Vitality Training Events/Retreats

There are a series of training events around the synod for congregations and leaders to learn more about this dynamic journey and discern whether they might be being called to engage it in their context.  If your conference already held a training event/retreat or you would like more information about this process, please contact your DEM (North:; South:

In the South Region, each retreat will be from 10:00-4:00 (unless otherwise specified) and include worship, brief conference business, and lunch. Details from conference deans coming soon. RSVP to conference deans to assist with planning.
11/16 – Miami-Dade and Broward-Bahamas Conferences (St. John, Hollywood)
1/18/2020 – Tradewinds Conference (Holy Spirit, Juno Beach)
3/7/2020 – Lake Conference (Lamb of God, Haines City)
In the North Region, retreats will run from 9:00-2:00 (unless otherwise specified).
11/9 – First Coast Conference (St. Mark’s, Jacksonville)

The Vitality Process Includes:

  • a focus on Centering/contemplative prayer as lifestyle rather than exercise;
  • learning cohorts to encourage and strengthen leaders;
  • guided learning through readings, presentations, and conversations;
  • all levels of leadership walking the same path, encountering the same God


Over a period of 12 months, your congregation explores new understandings of themselves, including:

  • Spiritual life cycle of congregations
  • centering/contemplative prayer
  • generative hospitality
  • discipleship and faith formation
  • strategies for expressive worship
  • reverse evangelism
  • demographics and community organizing
  • anxiety and fear as motivators for spiritual prosperity
  • action plans reflecting the nature of God’s Kingdom reality
  • how God cultivates responsiveness
  • and much more…

Stop, Look, & Listen Prayer (Contemplative)


  • Stop whatever you’re doing
  • Perhaps set a phone alarm to remind you
  • Take a deep cleansing breath or two to clear the “stress palate”
  • Get ready to Be Still! (to Know God)


  • Step back
  • Find a place to sit comfortably
  • Perhaps its your “spiritual spot” around home
  • Turn on your app (see below for information)
  • Remember that you are part of a bigger picture
  • Let’s look to get a “God’s eye view”
  • And, “know God!” (not just “about” God)


  • Simply listen into the quiet for the “still, small voice” of God
  • Like Jesus off by himself to a quiet place….(Mark’s Gospel)
  • Repeat your “Sacred Word” when you start thinking
  • It helps you stop “thinking about what you’re thinking about” & focus from God
  • It opens the door to be aware for God’s Specific Word to you in your moment.

“You are my child.  I love you.  I am pleased with you.  I am with you.” – God
Here value, satisfaction, purpose & future are revealed

Twenty Minutes, Twice per day, Maybe 12 hours apart
Helpful App at your app store   ®  Centering Prayer
(red, blue, green, & orange box)

Helpful Web Site –

This material prepared by Pr. Rob Carlson, DEM-FBS-ELCA 2019 (06/2019)

Video Resources for Engaging Congregational Vitality

Pr. Rob Bell reflects on ‘the song’ and considers what it means to be ‘in tune with the song’.

What pre-conceptions about people keep you from inviting them to church?

The Rev. Ruben Duran, ELCA representative, gives a presentation at the North Carolina Synod Assembly on Congregational Vitality from an ELCA perspective.

Additional Resources


  • Into the Silent Land, by Martin Laird
  • Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors, by Jonathan Malm
  • Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach, by Peter Steinke

Web sites

Congregational Vitality Survey web site and related resources:

  • this web site introduces the congregational vitality survey and provides some additional resources for congregations who have taken the survey and are discerning a way forward.


  • this web site allows you to learn about your community through a variety of demographic reports. Click HERE to find out how to log in and navigate MissionInsite.

Contemplative Outreach:

  • this web site gives more information, tools, and resources around centering/contemplative prayer