In Partnership-Reset for a New Decade

In Partnership-Reset for a New Decade

In Partnership –Reset for a New Decade!

January 2020  is flying by and although I’m accomplishing some long overdue tasks, I have to confess, I’m not one to make resolutions.  That said, the opportunity to reset in the new year for the transformation and transitions that lie ahead is appealing and challenging!

My recent thinking coalesced as I sat with an article from Emily Chiariello that was recently republished by Teaching Tolerance.  Emily’s insights regarding reset moments in public education are easily adapted for a new decade of faith formation and discipleship.  

We begin by remembering that Epiphany is a season of light and transformation.  Although most congregations are well into their program year calendars, now is the perfect season for a reset, and Epiphany is a perfect time to renew formation practices.

We can begin by discerning ourselves and with discernment partners. “What if we could begin again?” “What would we continue or keep, what would we leave behind?” “What changes are called for?” “What prevents us from making those changes now?”

How do we move forward into a new decade of being church? Of making disciples?

The first step toward transformation is to commit to change.  What challenges are we ignoring or do we resist?  What do we believe is invaluable to our future as a community and how might we begin to take small steps toward making things happen? We are reminded to start with ourselves. We must believe in our gifts and experience, train for new things that we’re longing to learn or know more about and believe in the gifts of our communities. We can recite this and write it on our hearts, “See, I am making all things new!” It’s not a stale phrase or verse, but a reminder that with the gentle nudge or the forceful winds of the Spirit, we can reset and move into a time of renewal.

Next, we are reminded to name the challenges. We can identify the challenge, analyze the contributing factors, reflect on our role and move forward. What behaviors and practices are necessary to move through times of challenge and change? How do we communicate hope, vision?  What is the language of movement?  What small triumphs can we point to and celebrate?

Seeking support is a valuable practice. We weren’t created to do this work alone.  Who are the allies and stakeholders you need in your circle?  What do we affirm in others? Where might you find new or unexpected partners?  What resources are available to us?  How might we use them to “lean into” the challenges or guide a new experiment?

Name your expectations clearly. Envision the impact of new initiatives in formation.  How will discipleship be deepened? Broadened?  How will the community benefit?  What are we modeling?  How might the clarity of new goals and objectives assist your group in living the love and justice of Jesus in your community and with familiar or new partners?

Lastly, the author suggests we give our plans time to stick!  New or renewing initiatives take time and valuable resources and at times our impatience for the results we imagine undermines our very efforts. Give yourself, your leaders and your membership time to adjust to new endeavors. Evaluate and refine as you go but not too quickly. It’s important to know when the time is right to realize the results we are experiencing or to accurately gage the impact we dream.  

Mindful of a sense of urgency, we must strive for patience and persistence. I would add these qualities are essential in the 21st century church.  Our heightened anxiety serves no one. Although unexpected at times, discipleship is a way of living and being that requires reset.  Let’s be the faithful church of the present and future, becoming a new movement of committed Christians living God’s way for the sake of the Gospel, the sake of one another, and the sake of the world!  

Let’s be committed to change, name the challenges, seek support and be supportive, consistently clarify expectations and practice patience and persistence!  These practices will serve us well and offer hope for a renewed future! These are practices I’m focusing on as we become a Southern New England Conference.


Karen E. Ziel

Karen Ziel supports Christian Educators and faith formation leaders with consultation, training, resources and programs. She has guided the development of the Leadership Studio at United Church Center, a communications and workshop facility for ...

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