Are Your Advent Traditions Still Meaningful?

Thanks to Innovation Lab’s Meghan Hatcher for sharing this Great Idea – full of resources to help congregations live into it!

Meghan quotes veteran ministry leaders Rev. Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr., and Rev. Tom Berlin, authors of Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results, writing, ‘Using the two important words ‘so that’ has the power to change the way leaders work with their congregations so that everything that God’s people do is shaped toward mission and results in fruitfulness.’

The contemplative in me says we can take a step back and not entirely embrace a results-oriented approach to ministry.

And the pragmatist in me says that in times when most leaders, volunteers, and worship attendees are feeling overwhelmed in both daily life and congregational ministries, ensuring that every undertaking is done with intention makes a lot of sense and can be life-giving for all involved.

All that is to say that the Innovation Lab’s Theological Innovation Process – which The Ministry Lab can facilitate – encourages leaders to ask, ‘What transformations do you hope to see in peoples’ lives through the innovative ministry you develop? In other words, what is the ‘so that’?’

Advent is a great time to consider these seven questions to enliven, deepen, and enrich Advent and Christmas offerings within your congregation and for your broader community:

  1. Who was this ministry originally intended to engage? Be as specific as possible! 
  2. Are these people still present in your church and wider community? 
  3. How have people’s needs and thoughts about church potentially changed since this ministry was originally developed? 
  4. Are you making any assumptions about the people you hope will attend and participate?
  5. How might attending or participating in this ministry feel to someone entirely unfamiliar with scripture or your church’s traditions and rituals?
  6. What do you hope people DO in response to participating in this ministry? Note: If the answer is “join our church” take a moment to go deeper and ask yourself, “why?” 
  7. With questions 1-6 in mind, fill in this prompt: “Our church is hosting/offering this ministry SO THAT _________________ happens.” Note: What you write in the blank space should be about transformation in people’s lives, not simply your church’s growth!

The Innovation Lab’s Community Discovery Package can help discern responses to these questions, if you’re not sure.

Read the full post (here) to discover additional resources and tips.

The Ministry Lab’s Where Is God in Transformational Times? event, November 4, 2023, will consider many of these same themes.

Check in with ED Rev. Emily Meyer for how to take advantage of either or both of these opportunities!