FAQs About Renewal Works
Following are Frequently Asked Questions for congregations interested in RenewalWorks:
What is RenewalWorks (RW)?
RW is a catalyst for refocusing parishes (and the individuals in them) on spiritual vitality. The process will inspire your congregation to focus on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to participate in God’s reconciling work in a grace-deprived world. “The harvest is plentiful, but, the laborers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest.” Through a guided methodology of self-reflection, sharing and workshop discussion, RW challenges congregations to get back to basics with a focus on spiritual growth, identifying specific ways that we are called to grow in love of God and neighbor. This work is based on 10 years of research and examination, uncovering key characteristics of vital Episcopal congregations.
What is spiritual vitality?
The gospels tell the story of a lawyer approaching Jesus and putting him to the test with this question: “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus’ response was simple, if not easy. He said it was about love of God (with all your heart and soul and mind) and love of neighbor as self. We believe that a singular focus on love of God and neighbor forms the basis of spiritual growth. It opens us to the movement of God’s Spirit and is an effort to continue deepening our love. It gets expressed in the lives of congregations, ministries, and individuals, calling each one of us to a journey of spiritual growth. Every time we say the confession in our liturgies, we admit that we haven’t loved God with our whole heart, and have not loved neighbor as self. We are never done growing in this regard.
What does the process entail?
The process begins with an anonymous, confidential and thought-provoking on-line Spiritual Life Inventory, which each member of the congregation is invited and encouraged to complete. In and of itself, it can be a powerful spiritual exercise. Responses are then statistically compiled into a snapshot of the congregation’s overall spiritual vitality. The parish forms a Leadership Team to undertake four guided workshops, exploring the topic of spiritual growth informed by the survey findings.
Who can take the Spiritual Life Inventory (SLI)?
Customarily, the SLI is geared to all parishioners over the age of 18, though some congregations have extended that to younger members, e.g., all those who have been confirmed.
What is the SLI?
One parishioner said, “I’ve taken surveys in my congregation for decades. This is the first one that asked me about my own spiritual practices.” Parishioners report that simply taking the SLI is an important re-awakening in evaluating their own spiritual needs and desires.
How long does it take?
The SLI takes 35-40 minutes to complete and is available to the congregation over 3 weeks and 4 Sundays. The entire RW initiative takes approximately 12-14 weeks to complete.
What is the end result?
Specific outcomes of RW are unique to each parish, reflecting a community’s specific challenges and opportunities. The SLI gives people a snapshot of where they are. The workshops help them think about where they want to go, and how they’d like to grow. Each parish creates tailored congregation-wide growth initiatives, based on an expression of Episcopal beliefs and practices and clarified, elevated expectations for clergy, lay leaders and individuals.
How do we get started?
RW is most successful when done with the support of the parish vestry and clergy leaders, so it is important to engage those leaders early on and inform them about the process. Please feel free to visit www.renewalworks.org for overview information that can be shared with your leadership. The RW staff is always available for questions and can provide contacts of other parishes that have completed the process. Once your parish has committed to pursuing RW, visit www.renewalworks.org to sign up on-line.
Who participates in the leadership team?
RW recommends that the leadership team represents a cross section of the parish and consists of 9-24 individuals who will commit to participating fully in the process. It should resemble a Clergy Search Committee. The leadership team is always facilitated by a member of the congregation (rather than clergy). It also helps to have an administrative person appointed to help with logistics.
What happens after the workshops are completed?
There are many ways that the RW learnings can be applied to life in your congregation. We strongly suggest that the team formally share their findings with staff, vestry and the wider parish. This is the fun part, as congregations creatively discern what God is calling them to do and be. RW has a collection of best practices and examples of ways other Episcopal parishes have communicated the findings. We are happy to share these with participating churches and in fact, often stay in contact with parishes that have completed the process, through off-site conferences or informal follow up.
What if I have additional questions?
Our Junior Warden, Paul Antenore, is available and interested in discussing RW with you.