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Vitality

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: robc@fbsynod.org; South: khadere@fbsynod.org).

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…

Our Congregation wants to engage the Vitality Process.  Where do we start?

The first step in the Vitality Process is an intentional, dedicated season of prayer and intentionally listening to God as a community.  As a congregation begins engaging in centering prayer, they may experience an increased awareness to the movement of the Spirit within and around them.  The praying congregation also begins a process of reflecting on hospitality and invitation, and prepares itself to receive visitors and insight from others.  Coaching calls, connecting with other congregations engaging this process, and additional training events with the DEMs will continue to be part of the process as congregations discover together God’s dreams for them.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FIRST PHASE OF VITALITY: INTENTIONALLY LISTENING TO GOD

Vitality Video Series

Centering/Contemplative Prayer: A Pathway to God Awareness

Most offer prayer to God in times of stress and insecurity. It brings comfort and an awareness of hope and certainty. By taking the time necessary, we become more and more aware of how God is then with us.  Centering/Contemplative Prayer (C/C) is a prayer style that maximizes our prayer commitment. Pastor Rob Carlson, one of the FBS Directors for Evangelical Mission has produced a Video Series to assist people as they begin to explore this intimate style of prayer with God.

Centering/Contemplative Prayer was reintroduced to the church in the 1970’s when people were looking for a way to meditatively be in God’s presence as Christians.  Father Thomas Keating then began to share resources and prayer to show a new pathway to knowledge of God.

In fact, the practice is recounted for the centuries that led up to the Reformation as being vital to the spiritual well-being of Christians. It is a mystical, listening style of prayer that allows one to wait wondrously and patiently for God while simply listening for God’s dynamic Word. This awareness of God happens.

C/CP brings a quiet calm and peace to one’s soul. It is dramatic and inspires hopefulness. And, in times like these, the prayer style is most helpful for bringing impact.

One can practice C/CP alone or with a group. In the FBS, we use C/CP as what is foundational to our strategic planning process called, “Vitality”. Vitality, with continued C/CP helps a congregation also answer, “What does God hope for us?”

The Video Series offers simple and short videos. They are intended to help us to prepare and then step into the prayer as well as its relevance. Resources are given for further exploration including an app, books, and an important web site for more information. There are also C/CP groups scattered throughout the State of Florida.

If you would like to ask Pastor Rob Carlson about Vitality, or if you have a comment on this video series, please contact him at robc@fbsynod.org. Pastor Carlson will respond as soon as he is able. Please allow up to 5 days for a response.

If you have any another questions, please contact the DEM for your area: North – Pastor Rob Carlson (robc@fbsynod.org) or South – Pastor Khader El-Yateem (khadere@fbsynod.org.)

These videos are the creative property of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. You may not duplicate or utilize any portion of these videos without the consent of the Office of the Bishop.

Video 1 – Introduction 

Video 2 – The Soul’s Awareness  

Video 3 – Noticing

Video 4 – The Practice

Video 5 – Practicing the Prayer Process

Video 6 – Prayer Resources

Video 7 – God Awareness

Recommended Reading

Video Resources for Engaging Congregational Vitality

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 on Congregational Vitality.

Additional Resources

Contemplative Outreach

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.

MissionInsite– 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.