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This Month in Mission February 2023

Hello and happy February!

Lent is almost here, which means with extra services there is extra opportunity to invite folks to your community. Here are some things that might help you do that:

Idea worth considering – “Relationships do what programs cannot.”

That’s not my idea – it came from The Art of Neighboring, which I recommended last month. For whatever reason, I’ve not been able to get that one sentence of the book out of my head since I read it in December.

Just about every congregation I go to is looking for a program – one that will help them grow, one that will help them get more money, or one that will help them engage young families or something like that. The prevailing sentiment seems to be “If we just find the right program, we’ll be able to (insert unrealistic expectation).” And, for people like me, the temptation is to feed that and come in with just the right program that will help get people what they want, because of course that’s how it works. Right?

As I’ve been unable to shake that sentence, I’ve been rethinking the ways that genuine and authentic relationship offers far more than any program does. Relationship is about mutual benefit; we are able to both give and receive in relationship in ways that programs are often simply about giving without first asking whether or not what we are offering is something people think they need.

Programs aren’t bad; they are avenues through which we can do the ministry God is calling us to do. But they are not the only avenue, and if we try to run programs without relationship, we shouldn’t be surprised they end up unsuccessful.

Resources worth checking out – The Congregational Vitality Team

The South Carolina Synod’s congregational vitality team is beginning to run quarterly events in different parts of the synod, focusing on bringing people together around a challenge many of us face in order to problem solve and learn from one another. It’s an opportunity to work with colleagues on a problem we share, and the goal each time is that pastors will leave with something they can take action on in their context. In short, the team is working hard to make sure this is actually useful.

Last month you should have received an email about an event at Cristus Victor on February 15 from 10:30-12:30. The first topic is having council meetings that don’t drain your energy like some kind of ministry vampire. We’ll have two pastors sharing a little bit about what it is they do, what it is they are struggling with, and then break into smaller groups for you to discuss with one another. This is hybrid, if you can’t make the drive to Cristus Victor.

You can sign up below, either for in-person or online. And, if this one isn’t your cup of tea, be on the lookout for other Congregational Vitality team events in the future.



If you want to want to have further conversation about how your church may rethink the difference between relationships and programs, or if you want some more information about the synod’s Congregational Vitality team, give me a call or just reply to this email. I’m never to busy for good and helpful conversation.

If you know someone who would like to receive this, please forward it to them. If someone has forwarded this to you and you’re interested in more please email and ask to be added to the This Month in Mission” newsletter list.

In Christ,


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Contact Information

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

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