The most interesting outcome from the data seemed to be the consistent correlation between generally accepted good parish practices and self reported parish growth. These factors all show a positive relationship with self reported parish growth:
- Adult education attendance
- Infrequent change of pastors (65% of growing parishes had one pastor in the previous ten years.)
- Presence of converts,
- Frequency of weekly worship, attendance at services including vespers, frequency of communion, frequent confession,
- Focus of parish council time on growth and ministry,
- Pledge forms, stewardship committees and all member canvas,
- Offering a variety of program options
- Presence of other miscellaneous good practices were all shown to be more consistently present in growing parishes.
See the entire survey summary here.
Unfortunately many Orthodox parishes are unprepared for funding the true long term cost of ownership of their facilities. Whether the parish facilities are new or ancient it behooves the parish to take a serious look at undertaking a well thought out, comprehensive “Replacement Reserve Analysis”. see article
A more complete summary is available here.
Slides and handouts from the Building Vibrant Parishes track, presented by the Diocese of the Midwest Parish Health Ministry can be found here.
The parish council at Holy Trinity parish in Overland Park KS recently developed a best practices manual for answering these questions. Assistant pastor
The document has been posted here for your review. It can be used as a potential model for your parish. Fr. Chris Rowe, assistant pastor, would very much like to receive comments and feedback on the document. Contact Fr Chris here with suggested improvements.
Designed to build “connectedness”, Parish Pulse is the communication backbone of the parish health ministry. It is emailed to clergy and lay leaders involved in building healthy and growing parishes
How to Wake Up a Sleeping Church
A recent podcast on Ancient Faith Radio by Fr. Evan Armatas of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese speaks of the steps used to plant a Greek Orthodox Mission in Loveland, Colorado. It provides useful insights into critical qualities of healthy parishes. If you can’t spare the approximately 30 minutes to listen to the talk, a thumbnail summary, provided by Father Armatas, can be found here.
Urban Ministry Summit June 26-27 2011 Columbus OH
The Diocese of the Midwest held it’s second Urban Ministry Summit on July 26-27 2011 at St. Gregory of Nyssa Church in Columbus OH.
Over fifty clergy and laity from urban parishes as well as suburban and rural parishes were in attendance to better understand techniques and ideas for extending God’s love to those in living in urban areas.
Summary information can be found here
“Living Word” Bible Studies Available On Line
A new collection of bible studies titled “The Living Word” is under development for the Diocese’ Parish Health and Development Ministry. The collection is edited by Fr John Matusiak and is being piloted at St. Joseph Orthodox Church Wheaton IL.
The Living Word is a 25-session Bible Study collection for group and individual use. Each series consists of five study guides on specific topics central to the Orthodox Christian faith and life as revealed in the spoken words of Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God.
Series one – “What Jesus Says…” has been completed and is available on the Diocesan website. The What Jesus Says series now has ten individual studies covering what Jesus says about:
- Eternal Life
- The Holy Spirit
- Sharing the Gospel
- Love for God and Others
The bible studies and an introductory sheet can be found here.
What Do Priests Want
We recently worked with a parish to help them develop some plans for the next 5-10 years. Since the rector of the parish will be retiring at some time during that period he asked that we include the topic of preparing for a clergy transition in the discussion agenda. We asked them to think about what a future rector would be looking for from them — the qualities and attributes an experienced Orthodox pastor would consider to be a good fit for his ministry.
Prior to the workshop we asked that same question of a few senior priests in the diocese. Here are some answers we received.
Parish Health Summit
The Diocese held its first ever Parish Health Summit on July 7-8 in Wheaton IL.
The conference was attended by fifteen priests from twelve growing parishes was convenedto focus on the questions of:
- “What do we mean by the term “healthy parish” and “vibrant parish?
- What do these parishes look and feel like? What goes on there?
- How do we help less vibrant parishes move onto a path to living a life in Christ in a more complete way? “.
More info can be found here.
Summit Attendees Define Parish Health Model
The primary outcome of the summit was the identification of eight focus areas essential to build vibrant parishes.
These eight areas will become the cornerstone of parish materials aimed to help parishes to strengthen leadership and ministries.