Charles Olson, co-author of the book “Discerning God’s Will Together” (Upper Room, 1997) posted a pertinent article on the Alban Institute blog today. It tells the story of three small Catholic churches in Montana that could not stay open individually, but were able to discern a new future together. His article points out a few actions that made this a healthy re-configuring of a ministry setting. They included: providing pastoral leaders who engender trust, engaging in formal and informal conversation to help with discernment, capitalizing on the strengths of a congregation’s character, sensitivity to the deep community roots of a church, attention to the theological anchors that gave their action integrity, and partnership with other churches for support and futuring.
I especially appreciated the reminder that churches need to tell their stories and have those stories heard in order to help define who they have been before they can move forward in new ways.
Stories like this remind me that God finds life in places where we see only death. Happy Eastertide!