Hopeful Practices and Encouraging Moves

Often as we go about this ministry through Pinnacle, we are aware of our opportunities for observing hopeful and inspiring practices in individual disciples, congregational leaders, entire congregations, and denominations. Often we find ourselves wishing we could share these hopeful practices with others. So, in this e-news article, we are briefly describing some of those practices for our readers. Our hope is that these hopeful endeavors may contribute to your discipleship as you follow our Lord.

Innovative Core Value Wording – “Theological Curiosity”

We’ve been involved with this congregation over the course of nearly a year, guiding their visioning process. Part of their discernment included clarifying their identity as a congregation. In so doing, they were able to articulate their practice of welcoming those who are spiritual seekers. This includes Christ-followers who are all over the board in their theology, as well as those who are not sure about God’s existence at all. They work to create a culture where people are welcome, invited to bring their questions about faith with them. This is hopeful because there are increasing numbers of people in our Postmodern world who do not start form a position of belief when it comes to the Christian Story. They will require belonging and becoming in a faith community before they are able to step through the threshold to belief. “Theological curiosity” is the phrase this church is using to describe their context wherein spiritual seekers of any sort are welcome.

Challenging Mission Statement
“Loving God, Loving Self, Loving Others – Without Exception”
This church adopted this mission statement to express their collective aspiration toward living their lives modeled on Jesus and his teachings. They are using this phrase, “Without Exception,” to push themselves toward expressing the radical love and grace of God through Christ. They are holding up this mission statement regularly, assessing their progress, and using it to guide their activities. The “Without Exception” phrase raises very interesting discussions among them, as you might imagine. I think they believe the Great Commandment and New Commandments given by Jesus were actually meant for implementation.

Striking Communion Statement
I’m with this congregation, preparing to lead a visioning experience after worship, while this is what is spoken at the beginning of Communion:
Pastor says: Today we celebrate Holy Communion, where we believe as Jesus told us, that this is his body and blood. Since this is the body of Christ, we welcome to this meal every person that Jesus welcomes to himself, and we dare turn away every sinner and broken person that Jesus turns away from himself, and that is...
Congregation replies: NO ONE (nearly shouted in unison)
The pastor later shared with me that they spontaneously stumbled into making this part of their communion experience. This congregation is the most joyous congregation in their worship I’ve experienced this year.

Unique Pastoral Staffing
Co-pastors, equal in responsibility.
They did not begin their ministries at this church this way. Early on, they were Senior Pastor and Associate Pastor. The Senior Pastor determined the church would be better served by co-pastors with equal authority, yet specialized ministries. The Lay Leadership Team accepted and blessed this approach. Yes, occasionally it’s difficult and sticky. Mostly this approach works well for these pastors and church, multiplying ministry among them.

We could go on. Instead we would enjoy hearing your stories of hopeful, Spirit-inspired innovative church practices.

Evidently, God is not finished with this world, inspiring disciples to dream dreams and see new visions. May we grow increasingly open to the Spirit’s movement as we join God at work in the vineyard (this world).

Mark Tidsworth, Pinnacle President

Helen