Here are some" 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.
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?
Holy Cross's vestry has taken the first steps to involve our Holy Cross parish in RenewalWorks. The vestry will spend part of its January Retreat with Jay Sidebotham, the creator of the program and a priest at St. James, Wilmington, and lay out the time frame for our involvement.
If you have further questions, contact Snowy Albright or Ellen Wells.
You can visit the RenewalWorks website at www.renewalworks.org.
Please visit www.renewalworks.org/leaders if you would like to learn about the RenewalWorks leaders who have developed this program.