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This Month In Mission March 2023

Lent is here and I hope you are still finding time for your own spiritual well-being despite the busy-ness of the season. I hope what follows helps you think through congregational vitality and outreach even in a busy season.

Idea worth Considering – Are your council meetings about looking backwards or looking forwards?

Thanks to Pastor Jason Lee and his presentation at last month’s Congregational Vitality Event for this insight. As he pointed out, it’s looking backwards (aka listening to everyone read reports) that can pull us into the dreaded 3 hour meeting that accomplishes nothing. Looking forward is what is exciting about ministry – planning future events, looking at what ministries we can be excited about, and working as a team to face challenges to bring about a healthier church. Some best practices that were offered:

  • Spend real time in devotions together, more than just reading a 1 minute devotion from a book.
  • Have everyone submit their reports ahead of meeting, with the expectation that people will have read what is submitted ahead of the building. This minimizes the looking back, and leaves time for looking forward.
  • Clear onboarding and expectations set for council members. Make it clear council should read the reports before arriving and model the behavior you want to see.

Obviously, this isn’t everything that can be done and big change won’t happen overnight, but if you want to focus on better council meetings in partnership with your council leadership, these are some good places to start.

Resources worth checking out

On the topic of better council meetings, the Congregational Vitality Team collected a list of books that have information that’s helpful about council meetings. The list:

Henri Nowen, A Spirituality of Fundraising

Walters & Holley, Clear, Calm, and Connected

Mike Ward, Abundance

Dave Daubert, The Invitational Christian

Dave Daubert, Becoming a Hybrid Church

Lane & Pomroy, Embracing Stewardship

Ferbee, Cultivating the Misisonal Church

Rendle and Mann, Holy Conversations

And, if a list of books that you may or may not read isn’t helpful, be on the lookout for a resource from the synod that has best practices in a condensed form that we’re starting to put together. I’ll make sure to include a link as soon as we’ve got it together.

Ever wonder who looks at the data from forms A and C?

I do! It’s actually useful for me, and it’s my goal to make what I’m learning from the data useful for you. Good data helps me spot trends across the synod in giving, attendance, and other metrics that can be helpful for us all to know. For example, you may be interested to know that while attendance trended up during the pandemic due to online worship, total active participants trended downward.

As with any data, the information and the conclusions I can draw from it are only as good as the data we get. So, please take the time to fill it out, and if you forget and don’t fill them out until December, it’s still helpful. I am taking the time to use this information for the benefit of your ministries, and I promise the effort you put into sharing the data isn’t just disappearing into a Chicago-shaped vacuum but will come back to you in a helpful way.


If you want to have further conversations about how you can take steps to make your council meetings a source of congregational vitality, or if you want to nerd out over church data, just reply to this email or give me a call – I am never to busy for a good 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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ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

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