Select Page

congregational vitality

vitality resources


Sign up for periodic emails about MISSION from The Rev. James Henricks our Director for Evangelical Mission




The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk

This is one that I’d read in seminary and pulled off my bookshelf over the holidays intending to skim and ended up reading the whole thing. While you have to get used to an overuse of the “missional” buzzword of yesteryear, the thing that got me hooked was how it talked about leading in times of discontinuous change, and how unfortunately relevant it felt. According to the authors, developmental change is the kind of change that draws a straight line from where things were to where things are. Discontinuous change is a time of upheaval and transformation, when there is no straight line from where we were to where we are now. They write, “In a period of discontinuous change, leaders suddenly find that the skills and capacities in which they were trained are of little use in addressing a new situation and environment.” Sound familiar?

Even though it’s over 15 years old, I took away a lot from this that felt useful. Like anything, you’ve got to sort through for the nuggets of wisdom, but particularly in how leaders can chart a path through discontinuous change, this is worth a read if you’re looking for that kind of a resource.

Fresh Expressions: A new kind of Methodist Church for People not in Church. Kenneth H. Carter and Audrey Warren

Obviously, I’m borrowing from our UMC brothers and sisters on this one. This book helps think through how we reach people not already in church, and has discussion questions at the end of the chapters if you’re looking to lead a group discussion. Fresh expressions, as you might imagine, are new ways of being the church. What I like is that it connects the traditional with the new, and paints a picture of how tradition and innovation can work together rather than being pitted against each other. The vision of these fresh expressions is meeting people where they are in those third spaces, and inviting them into engaged discipleship. Based on the history of this movement, there are promising results. It’s a short read that’s worth picking up.

If you want to learn more but don’t want to read the book, you can visit the Fresh Expressions website.

ELCA Coaching

Coaching is best for leaders who are looking to get un-stuck or work through an issue facing them in ministry. This is one of the ways the ELCA is investing in its leaders, with many synods having a much stronger coaching culture than we currently have in South Carolina. It’s not a way for someone to tell you what to do; it’s someone who helps you break patterns of thinking and find for yourself new ways to move forward. As someone who might have rolled his eyes about this snake oil in the not-too-distant past only to have experienced first-hand the benefits of coaching, take it from a skeptic that coaching is something helpful and worth looking into. The business world is full of coaching, and with a strong cohort of ELCA coaches available, we can take advantage of this in a faithful way. If you’re looking to make moves in outreach, evangelism, or another type of activity, I’d really recommend it as a potential resource to help you navigate change or a challenge.

South Carolina Synod Faith in Action Grants

It’s that time of year when you may be thinking about what you’re going to be doing as the school year starts back up or what fall plans are looking like in the congregation. The South Carolina Synod’s Faith in Action grants are available for congregations to help you faithfully reach out in ministry among your wider community and make God’s love known. LuMin at Carolina has already put this to good use in the spring with an outreach project to great success. If there’s a creative new idea that needs a boost of resources to get it going, take the time and fill out the application. There are no deadlines, and our goal is to respond as quickly as possible. If this is something that can be helpful to your ministry, please consider applying for the grant or talking with your congregation about how you might use one in the future.

Able South Carolina

This month marks the 32nd anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As the world has been working to become more welcoming and accessible for all, churches need to be keeping up. In the last few months, I’ve had conversations with multiple congregations about how they can better serve and involve folks with disabilities. Personally, I’ve learned recently about how our settings or practices often unintentionally exclude people. As many congregations are aging, I know more are having conversations about how to best accommodate folks with vision, hearing, and mobility disabilities. Able SC is a statewide non-profit that, from their website, practices “coequality, disability justice and representation, and true inclusion through consumer-driven independence and disability pride.”

Able South Carolina can help you think through all the steps your congregation can take to be more accessible in all aspects of ministry, not just physical spaces. If your congregation is looking for ways to more fully include and welcome folks with disabilities at all ages and stages of life, you can connect with Able SC by reaching out directly to e.k. hoffman at, or look for more information on their website here.


I know, this isn’t the first time you’re hearing from me about this. If there’s one resource that I’ve recommended since I’ve started this newsletter that I would recommend the most, it is this. Seriously, if you haven’t signed up, stop reading and click this link.

Some things you can do with Misison InSite: You can upload a spreadsheet with all your members’ addresses to visualize where your people live in relation to your church. You can get detailed demographic reports for what kinds of people live around your church. You can get survey data that gives insight to what programs people in your area are looking for in churches. You can see what ways will be most effective to communicate with folks in your area. And this is just scratching the surface.

As with any data, it’s not the end of our understanding but a solid beginning for each of our congregations to better empathize with our neighborhoods. I am confident every pastor and congregation will have something to learn from this.

If you get signed in and are struggling to make sense of how to use this, I’ll be around at convocation with my laptop to sit down with anyone who wants to look through it with me.

The 21st Century Christian by Michael Moynagh and Michael Adam Beck

This is the second book by Michael Adam Beck that I’ve recommended, and also comes out of the Fresh Expressions tradition. This little book, currently only $9.99 on Amazon, is like a guidebook for a pastor, engaged lay leaders, or a congregation that is looking to expand its ministry beyond Sunday morning. Fresh expressions are about meeting people where they are, bringing in a faith component, and through shared activity and interests, introduce the story of Jesus. Often lay led, these small, cheap, and available-to-anyone ministries are quickly growing globally, particularly in the church of England and in the United Methodist Church. If you’re looking to do some small experiments of gathering people outside the walls of the church, this is worth a look

Congregational Vitality – Why do we want it? How do we achieve it?

Congregational Vitality is defined as worshipping communities of Jesus that deepen a person’s relationship with God, each other and the world. The following resources are intended in helping our rostered leaders and lay leadership in becoming vital communities of faith. Resources will continue to be added to this page as they become available. Look for current learning opportunities and other information to support you as a leader and congregation.



A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri J. M. Nouwen
Henri Nouwen’s long-standing work, A Spirituality of Fundraising, provides not only a theological framework for thinking about the opportunity and invitation that stewardship and fundraising brings, but it also offers a gentle yet compelling argument for how fundraising is central to spiritual health and well-being.

This book is a quick and easy read, making it ideal for rostered and lay people alike, and certainly it should be used at both the council table as well as the kitchen table. After-all, figuring out where you are as a leader when it comes to comfortability regarding financial matters is key to engaging others in an authentic and honest way.

This short guide will provide some reflection questions to go along with each chapter. These questions are meant to provoke conversation, not recall chapter information, and making sure users know this is important because, well, so often we get trapped into the thought pattern that prioritizes “right answer” mentality over “critical engagement.”

Download the guide here.

Embracing Stewardship: How to Put Stewardship at the Heart of Your Congregation by Charles “Chick” Lane and Grace Duddy Pomroy
A great book for stewardship. There is an overview of stewardship, as well as practical things for implementation. Great for a Stewardship Committee or Finance Team to read through together.

Abundance: Creating a Culture of Generosity by Mike Ward
Mike uses beekeeping as a metaphor for the Christian life together. This is an easy and practical read for stewardship committees or church council members to ground everyone in a shared vision of stewardship

Additional Resources

Giving to God: The Bible’s Good News about Living a Generous Life by Mark Allan Powell

Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass

The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life by Lynn Twist

Preaching and Stewardship: Proclaiming God’s Invitation to Grow (Vital Worship Healthy Congregations) by Craig Satterlee

The Power of Asset Mapping: How Your Congregation Can Act on Its Gifts by Luther Snow

The Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen

New Consecration Sunday: Stewardship Program by Herb Miller

Chasing Down a Rumor: The Death of Mainline Denominations by Robert Bacher and Ken Inskeep

Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are with What We Buy by Tom Beaudoin


Center for Generosity Podcast with Deacon Mitzie Schafer
Podcast about stewardship, giving, donors, etc. Episodes are typically under 30 minutes.

Understanding a Theology of Stewardship

The Depth and Breadth of Stewardship Theology by Michael Meier

Step by Step Michael Meier

Giving, A Bible Study Series on Stewardship by  Michael Meier

Stewardship & the Economy of God by John H. Reuman

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Biblical Vision of Sabbath Economics by Ched Myers

Stewardship as Worship, Devotions and Prayer

Jesus’ Teaching about Money: A Guide to Biblical Stewardships by Loyal E. Golv

One Minute Stewardship Sermons by Charles Cloughen, Jr.



From Social Media to Social Ministry: A Guide to Digital Discipleship by Nona Jones
Tips and ideas for using Facebook in particular for more than just posting announcements.

e-Vangelism: Creating and Implementing a Social Media by Dr. Martin Luther Quick
Dr. Quick discusses how does a church go from being online to having an online ministry? Which platforms work best for your church’s context? How can I convince my church leadership that a Social Media ministry is necessary? How will the Post-Pandemic church do both in-person and online ministry simultaneously? Some of these questions likely keep you up at night if you are a church leader. So rather than reading articles that give you quick fixes and quick tips, this book chronicles Dr. Quick’s pre-pandemic doctoral dissertation case study, shares his experience as a digital pastor responding to the pandemic, and offers insightful quick takes after each chapter.

Becoming a Hybrid Church by Dave Daubert and Richard E.T. Jorgensen, Jr.
A book about balancing the online and in-person aspects of ministry – from worship, to committees, to pastoral care, and more.

Grace and Gigabytes: Being Church in a Tech-Shaped Culture by Ryan M. Panzer
Grace and Gigabytes: Being Church in a Tech-Shaped Culture explores change and ministry at the intersection of technology, culture, and church. In today’s tech-shaped culture, we learn and we know through questions, connection, collaboration, and creativity–the networked values of the digital age. Drawing on experiences from a career as an instructional designer in the technology industry and a lifetime of leadership in the Lutheran church, Ryan M. Panzer argues that digital technology is not a set of tools, but a force for cultural transformation that has profound implications for ministry. See more from our 2020 Synod Assembly below.

Grace and Gigabytes Webinars

“Being church in a tech-shaped culture”
A learning resource brought to you by the South Carolina Synod.

“We know that hybrid ministry creates a missional opportunity by combining offline and online connections. So let us boldly go into a future of seamless integration between the offline and the online. Let us lead into a future where digital apps and tools deepen faith formation, enrich congregational bonds, and strengthen Christian fellowship. As we explore together hybrid forms of worship, faith formation, and stewardship, may these webinars beam us into a new era where faith is nourished in physical and cyberspace alike.” 
Ryan M. Panzer

Author, Grace and Gigabytes: Being Church in a Tech-shaped Culture

Book Study Part One: Questions

Book Study Part Two: Connections

Book Study Part three: Questions

Book Study Part four: Questions

Keynote One: The Holy and the Hybrid by Ryan Panzer – 2021 ELCA South Carolina Synod Assembly

Keynote Two: The Holy and the Hybrid by Ryan Panzer – 2021 ELCA South Carolina Synod Assembly

You will need a few digital tools to make online programming effective. Most of these tools are free or have a very reasonable subscription price. Here are a few essentials that will help you create new approaches to faith formation.

Strategic Planning


Holy Conversations: Strategic Planning as a Spiritual Practice for Congregations by Gil Rendle and Alice Mann
Helpful book if one wants to look at strategic planning through a holy lens. Great for basics and inspiring conversation among Councils and leaders.

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team by Simon Sinek
Helpful for starting the deep work of discerning “why” your congregation or organization exists. Specific activities can be used in many settings but work well to get to the heart of stories that capture your organization’s “why.” Simon writes primarily to a business or non-church audience, but his wisdom can certainly be made spiritual and used by churches.

Cultivating the Missional Church: New Soil for Growing Vestries and Leaders by Randolph C. Ferebee
A book about helping to grow leaders in the congregation, mostly by working with Congregation Council.

Get connected and equipped for ministry in today’s world. Faith+Lead provides just-in-time learning experiences for passionate lay and ordained ministry leaders who want to grow in their capacity to live out a gospel witness in today’s cultures.

Practical Matters


Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger
A great book on learning to lead when you don’t know what is ahead of you. The tools we have and what we were taught aren’t always sufficient for what we need to lead in the present.

Rethink Communication: A Playbook to Clarify and Communicate Everything in Your Church by Phil Bowdle
While seemingly geared toward larger congregations with a “media team,” this book can help even the smallest congregation think about communicating an idea. This can help with sermons, announcements, and social media.

Church Administration: Programs/Process/Purpose by Robert Bacher and Michael Cooper-White
Simple theological backing for the practical matters of meetings or administration of a congregation, as well as samples of practical agendas or forms or guides.


Alpha and Omega Leadership by Wade Roof
Archive of conversations with the purpose of developing and exploring faithful leadership inside and outside the Church with God’s people in mind. Episodes are generally about an hour, some are longer.

Get connected and equipped for ministry in today’s world. Faith+Lead provides just-in-time learning experiences for passionate lay and ordained ministry leaders who want to grow in their capacity to live out a gospel witness in today’s cultures.
Leading a church is hard. We help you create systems and structure that lead to growth. Our resources, templates, and courses will help be a more confident leader. And when you need extra help, our coaches are available for a 1-on-1 conversation to help you navigate any situation.
Faith grows more vibrant when the discipleship journey embraces the whole person. Discover the Whole-Person Ministry Leadership Approach.

Additional Resources

Faith & Christianity Archives from Barna Group

ELCA Coaching
Coaching is a relational alliance that leverages the art of deep listening, powerful questions and intentional exploration to produce awareness, change, and transformation for the client. In coaching, the client has agency, is the one naming the goals, designs action plans to meet those goals, and does 80% of the talking. Faith-based coaching (from a Christian lens) looks at each individual as beloved of God, believes that person has been specifically gifted by God, and helps the person discover how they are being invited by God to use these gifts in God’s work of loving and healing the world.



Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder and Brad Griffin
Practical book for congregations asking “why aren’t there more young people in our church?” or “how do we get more young people?” While it may not give an exact roadmap or solve all of a congregation’s problems, this is a great book for leadership teams to read in that it helps to build compassion and understanding for youth and young adults. Additional materials can be found through The Fuller Institute as well.

Mission Partners

Get In Touch

This is Christ’s Church. There is a place for you here.

We are the church that shares a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. Liberated by our faith, we embrace you as a whole person–questions, complexities and all. Join us as we do God’s work in Christ’s name for the life of the world.

Contact Information

ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This