Leading people by baby steps to talk about their faith and inviting others to church. We are handing out business cards each week with the instructions on them for the week. If you would like to purchase the original word and publisher files for all 13 weeks, you can do that in the store. However, the content and path to leading people is helpful.
How To Do It
The person handing out the homework, or pointing it out in the bulletin should have one story or one answer for the question that helps people start thinking. Also, people should be planted at fellowship hour to ask the questions for the week and get a conversation going.
Think of one story about how this church has affected your life.
Tell the story of how this church has changed your life at coffee hour to ONE person.
Think of one story that shows how your life is better because of Jesus.
Tell the story of how Jesus matters in your life to ONE person at coffee hour.
Name one thing that is scary about telling people about Jesus and one good thing.
When you feel nervous about telling someone about church or Jesus, what is one thing you can tell yourself to help you do it?
Think of a person who does not go to church and how Jesus might change their lives.
Contact the person you thought of last week, and mention something about how Jesus changed your life in casual conversation.
Pray for that person and whatever is going on in his or her life. You can share that you've done this, but don't have to.
Hand a flyer with church information casually to TWO people in a one-on-one conversation at one event this week or next.
What good news of Jesus will you invite at least TWO families to hear at Calvary Lutheran this Easter? Which TWO families?
Invite at least TWO more families to come worship with us on Easter. Including at least one sentence about why you think Easter matters. What is the Good News for you, in one sentence? How does Jesus change your life?
Send a message or make a phone call to the four families on Saturday letting them know you’ll see them tomorrow for Easter.
The Cards Picture Gallery
Invitation Card Files
Weeks 1 and 2 are in MS Word, while Weeks 4-13 are in publisher. Weeks 12 and 13 were printed back to back to hand out the Sunday before Easter. After purchase, you will receive an e-mail will all 12 files for you to edit for your congregation. These were printed on Avery 8871 labels, Avery® Inkjet Clean-Edge Two-Side Printable Business Cards, 2-Sided, 2" x 3 1/2", White Matte.
I’m so excited! I’m dust, and to dust I shall return. Every year in the life of the church, we observe a Holy Day called Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is on Valentine’s Day this year, so I hope to see you at church at 7pm on February 14. Somehow, we’ll include Love in all this.
Ash Wednesday is the day that starts us on a path to Easter. This service begins the church season of Lent, the six weeks we use to prepare for Easter. At this service, I will draw crosses on each person’s forehead while they kneel around the altar.
Although some find this service “too real” and “too focused on death”, I find great meaning, great joy, and great life in it. For it communicates so many things. It lets me know that I belong to God, no matter what. If I’m a tiny infant, or near death, we all have the same cross on our heads, and we all belong to God the same. It equalizes the playing field to know that we are all going to die, and I love knowing that even though each of us are sinners (do things that cause separation and hurt), we are all in it together. We are all made from the same dust, and we will return to the same dust, and we belong to the same God who sees us, knows us, and saves us anyway.
There is a healing aspect to this service, for it brings us together as a community. We start our journey of six weeks knowing that we belong to God, that God made us, and that we’re all equally guilty, equally messy equally death-dealing, and equally saved.
This is a day when we get real about death, real about the pain we cause each other, God, ourselves, and the planet. We acknowledge how much the same we are, how much God loves us, and how we are all in it together.
This is my basic theology of life:
“Life is hard, we’re all in it together, Yay Jesus!”
Another thing I love about Ash Wednesday is the journey that it begins. At the end of six weeks, we’ll end up at the Last Supper, Good Friday, and finally, Easter! (I’ll explain more about those in March newsletter.) Welcome to the Journey!
This year, for Lent, we’re having classes on Thursday nights beginning Feb. 22 from 4pm-5pm. We’ll go over the stories of the Christian faith, why they matter, how we live them, how we celebrate them, with a focus on the last meal Jesus shares with his disciples in Matthew 26:17-30. People of all ages are welcome; please let me know if you plan to attend. Please also bring your Bible; if you need one, let me know. Then, on Maundy Thursday (March 29, 7pm), we’ll celebrate First Communion for those who complete the classes and have not yet communed.
See you on Valentines Day! I can hardly wait!
Love, Pastor Jess
We tried some new things at Calvary with Mt. Zion for Christmas Eve. You can read below about some of the things we did, and see pictures. Although the morning service did not have a sermon, the evening service included a sermon that made the same point as the morning service. You can listen to it here. Also, we used Cards for Worship so that even first time visitors could be part of making worship happen. The kids were led through a telling of the Christmas story where they acted out different parts. It was a no-rehearsal, pop-up Christmas Play. It worked out great. Also, for our message time, the kid's did an activity you can read about below. I've included some of the worship parts that were written just for this service, too.
Call to Worship
WELCOME/SHARING THE PEACE
The presiding minister and the congregation greet each other in the peace of the risen Christ.
P The peace of Christ be with you always.
C And also with you.
The people may greet one another with a sign of Christ’s peace and may say:
Peace be with you or similar words. Please ask before offering handshakes or hugs.
P Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world!
C He is One who comes to bring us life.
P At this hour of creative birth, we gather to celebrate the great joy of our salvation.
C With the heavenly host we sing, "Glory to God in the highest heaven."
P In Christ, God's Word is made flesh and lives among us.
C With the shepherds, we will tell of the wonders we have seen and heard.
Prayer of the Day
THE PRAYER OF THE DAY
P Dear Jesus,
C Thank you for coming into the world today as a little baby. As we think about what presents we can bring you, help us to know how to share your presents with others. In your name, we pray, and we play, AMEN.
Pastor Jess, along with her friend Jess Davis wrote our Eucharistic Prayer for Disrupt Worship. You can see it along with the things others wrote here. If you'd like Jess Davis to help you create things, or to be a paid sensitivity reader for you, you can contact her by sending her a message on facebook.
Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Eucharistic Prayer 2017 by Jess Harren and Jess Davis
Oh Creator, from the beginning of time you have been with us.
You save us again and again, from ourselves. From our hatred of others. From our judgements that we know more than you.
You created us as whole beings, minds, bodies, souls, all together, all connected.
You bring us prophets to point the way, to call us in, to call us toward love and life.
And yet, we turn away. It is too hard to see.
In the creative darkness, in the beginning of time, the depth of Mary’s womb, you knit together a real human body that comes from another body. A connected body. You were a baby. We hear your cries to eat, to sleep, to be held, to be changed.
In the incarnation, in becoming human, you know what it is to bleed.
To hurt. To cry out for justice from a body that was tortured.
You know the pain of speaking up against the things that separate. The pain of oppression. Of those who think they get to define who counts as human.
And yet, you gave yourself to us. You gave your own body and blood to heal us, to bring us closer to ourselves, and one another. To heal the broken connections, within, without, and between our whole beings. In this meal, you connect your body to ours. As the story about you is told:
On the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples to eat saying, “Take and eat. This is my body. Do this for the remembrance of me.”
After supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for all people, and for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the reembrace of me.”
Through your human and divine body, you bring us salvation. You also shared your Spirit with us.
Oh Holy Spirit,
Thank you for promising to infuse this wine and bread with the spirit of Jesus. Saturate the wine and the and the insides of the bread with your spirit. Use it to unite us to Jesus’ body, and the bodies of all those around us. Unite everyone who eats of this meal, until, at last we know the joy of connection with all that is around us. Amen.
Blessing and Dismissal
May God bless you with presence, May Jesus bless you with saving love, and May the Holy Spirit inspire you to share those with others.
P: Glory to God in the highest!
C: Peace to God’s people on earth!
P: Go in peace. Share the gift of Jesus.
C: Thanks be to God.
This time of year, in the church, and our lives, we are getting ready for Jesus. We are getting ready to celebrate a tiny baby in a manger, God coming into the world in unexpected ways.
It is in the vulnerability of the infant that we see God open Herself up to humanity in brand new ways. Jesus changes everything.
Often, congregations work like families. A group of us have gotten together three times now to think about our family at Calvary. How do we interact with one another? How do we define ourselves, while staying part of a community? What happens when things are not going well between two groups, two people, or leadership? How do we resolve differences in healthy ways? For those of you who have been coming, I’ll rely on you to share what you’ve learned with others. If you haven’t had a chance to come, the first two are posted. You can read all about what we’re learning and how we’re growing as a congregation by clicking on the two buttons below.
At the end of Workshop Three, we talked about how Bibles that sit on coffee tables and look pretty, but are never opened and read, can’t really change our lives or help us follow Jesus. Similarly, allowing these workshops to help us grow as a congregation only works as much as we follow through on new behaviors. Those at the workshop asked me to communicate our four goals for the congregation to you. The plan is that the congregation will work hard on these goals, and we’ll meet again on February 18 after fellowship time. At that time, we’ll do chapters 11-13 of the book and evaluate how we’re doing with our goals. I also encourage people to write about their progress --– how things are going; what’s hard about it; how prayer matters in the process; where things went well; where conversations did not go well. Also, I invited people to share reflections with me on the process.
Are you ready? The goals requested by the workshop participants are on the next page. They are also posted by the kitchen pass-through so that we can keep them in mind. Don’t worry about getting this all at once. It’ll take a long time, and this is just a brief overview to get us started and it will let you know that workshop participants (along with others) might be speaking to you differently from now on. Also, if this is all new and totally overwhelming for you, be sure to read the book if you have it, and ask questions of those who've come to the workshops. It is ok to just pick one of these goals for you to read and concentrate on for the next month or two.
More “I Statements”
Shut down relationship triangles by asking more questions to help people change their own behavior (instead of talking about how to change someone else) and sending people directly to the person they are complaining about (or hoping to change).
Boundaries Around Complaining
Define Discussion V. Argument
More “I Statements”
In places where people have been worried for a long time it is called chronic anxiety. In most groups, when the worry is high, like worrying for years about the survival of the congregation, we start to want to blame other people. Often we think “If that person just would/would not do this/that . . our church would grow fine.” However, what we have learned is that “I statements” make a world of difference. They are hard in the moment when we’re not used to them, so just imagine Jesus arguing with his parents, and then try again the next time. The point is to try to use them and see if they work.
“I statements” are formatted like this: “I think/feel __________________ when you ___________________________.” For example, someone reading this might be saying, “I feel uncomfortable when Pastor Jess talks about these goals because I do not want to do them.” That’s an I statement, and a good and honest one.
Shut down relationship triangles by asking more questions to help people change their own behavior (instead of talking about how to change someone else) and sending people directly to the person they are complaining about (or hoping to change).
We accomplish this goal in two primary ways. If someone at church comes to you to complain about someone else, or talk about how someone else needs to change, then the first step is to offer to help them think about how they can go directly to the person they have the problem with. Saying things like, “If you have a problem with Pr. Jess, you need to go talk directly to Pr. Jess” will really help. Also, you can ask clarifying questions. What is she doing you don’t like? How do you want things to be different? Let me help you think of how to tell her how you’re feeling about this. What’s really going on? How might you need to change the ways you talk to Pastor? How might you need to hold your boundaries better? What tools can you use? It is the job of the person listening to not become part of the relationship triangle, and to help the person talking understand themselves better, and go directly to the person they are struggling with.
The workshop participants have noticed a pattern that often people at church relate to one another through complaining. While this can be a good way for two people to feel close to one another and on the same page, it can also drag an organization down. There is a difference between complaining and these preferable things:
The group decided that this would be a helpful thing for our congregation to know. How do we define an argument, verses a discussion? Is it the emotional intensity? The use of “I statements”? The ways blame and anxiety get passed around? The amount of constructive problem solving? When these two things are confused, often people try to avoid difference all together. They do not talk about things in open and honest ways, and avoid solving problems all together to avoid an argument breaking out. This is most likely when an emotional system has low tolerance for people having different needs. It is possible in some places to say “I don’t like that, that doesn’t work for me, and I am in favor of it because I understand this might be a good way that our community can show Jesus to the world.” When we know how to have a discussion, and when people have space to define themselves, it actually becomes much easier to move forward as a group toward a common goal. Although it might look nice on the surface, when people do not define themselves and their position, it is much harder to move forward together.
We can do It!
That’s it! And that’s enough. This stuff is hard work. I find much hope in knowing that Jesus was human. He lived on earth among humans. There are times he gets into triangles, especially when he offloads his anxiety to God about the disciples not getting that the Good News is about Life for All. Of course, as we celebrate our very human Baby Jesus this winter, we look forward to knowing that Jesus was also Divine, that God has become human and can redeem humanity. Jesus will forgive us as many times as it take to work on these goals, with love, compassion, understanding, and guidance. May we know that the human Jesus is with us in this, and that the Divine Jesus will always forgive us and offer us New Life and the chance to try again. Thanks be to God! Amen.
To Purchase a download for use in your congregation, click below.
Newsletter Article on Goals
Download this Word document and modify it for use in your own church newsletter.
@2017 by Rev. Jessica A. Harren. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. From pastorjess.com, and adapted by Rev. So and So for This Congregation. Used with permission.
Our congregation has committed to engage in workshops once a month that help us think about the ways to be a healthy church that is for proclaiming the love of Jesus to all the world. At workshop #1, we learned about making "I statements", about how congregations are connected in emotional systems, how we affect one another, and how anxiety is spread throughout the system.
Two Hours of Time
White Board/Chart Paper and Markers
Creating a Healthier Church by Ronald W. Richardson, Ch. 4-6
Everyone chose a marble from a container, and then we went around the circle of 12 people. Each person shared how they thought that marble represented them. We found out that everyone used different words to describe their marbles, even when they appeared the same way to the eye. Words like: maybe some will think this is ugly, but I think it’s beautiful, pretty, pitted, different, sparkly, textured, interesting, iridescent, see-through, gold, yellow, clear, opaque. This became a helpful discussion about perception, and the multiple ways one might describe the same thing.
Part one: Bible
We worked with Acts 4:32-5:11 and noticed some things about the text. We noticed that God doesn’t kill Ananias, but that he just falls dead. Maybe from grief? Maybe from shame? How does it hurt us when we can’t live in community well? Does living in community mean giving up everything we have? We didn’t have any good answers; however, it was interesting to sit with a group of congregation members and interrogate a Bible story about togetherness and separation. If nothing else, this story highlights how hard it is to live in community, and gives us motivation for learning to do it well.
As people said what they noticed about the story, their answers were: fell down and died, great fear, none had any need, alarmed, power, lied to God, [guilt/shame/shock]
Part Two: Life Forces
Part THree: Tug Of War
Four volunteers demonstrated the close/distant dynamic with jump ropes. They also included the pursuer/distancer dynamic. People tried to put others closer, while others tried to pull away. For example, see below:
A: Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen you in a week, how are you? When we can get together?
B: Ummm, I’m not sure. I’ve been really busy lately.
A: Let’s have dinner tonight!
B: I can’t, I have family coming over.
A: How about Monday? Or Tuesday?
B: [Drops her end of jump rope and leaves conversation.]
A: Hey, welcome to our church! I’m glad you came today. How are you? Would you like to get together for dinner soon?
B: I’m not ready for that, could we meet for coffee instead?
[They stay connected by the rope, AND respected one another’s boundaries.]
You can see the things we listed about each church. During the conversation Person (all names are withheld) shared a time in our churches' history when there was a flood in the basement. While many people went down to clean up the mess, several people sat in the sanctuary and complained about the clean up happening during worship. (For more on how we're learning to form a habit of positive speech, see this post.)
From this conversation, you can see the pink lines in the middle. We talked about how anxiety and patterns get passed down through the generations. Some newer people were able to share how they'd noticed this pattern, and were glad to know where it came from.
Part Three: Teaching
Since the video is public on You Tube, I edited down a shorter version of this original, and left a comment on the page that I had used it.
(Yes, I steal my six year old child's toys for ministry. Yes, I have his permission, too. No, I can not make as high quality of videos as this guy.)
Once we had established that our church is an emotional system, we talked about how things moved through the system.
Person A is the car.
Person B is the wheel.
When Person A comes to you with a negative statement about the congregation, or even life, if you are Person B you can make a choice. Will you:
Part Four: Practice
We went around the room having Person A of the pair saying something to Person B, send them their car, and then having Person B send a car back with a new statement.
Things We Learned from Practice
- Our congregation is capable of hard emotional work.
- We are capable of learning new things.
- Laughter and cars falling diffused tension and made things fun.
- This made it easier to do work.
- In the end, everyone picked up some of the toys and put them away. We all learned to take responsibility.
- The ways we say things matter, and affect others.
- There are multiple ways of addressing toys left on the floor:
- "Parents these days . . . ."
- "I can't believe this . . . ."
- "I'm sure they just forgot, it is hard to get out of here sometimes. They usually pick up the toys just fine . . . ."
- "That's the kids area, so it is their problem for next Sunday. Can't you just leave it for them, turn around, and not look at it?"
- "I'm so glad kids are in our church. I am a little worried about the mess over there making a bad impression on those meeting here this week. Will you help me clean up?"
- (Statements 4 and 5 led that pair to join together in cleaning up the toys.)
- We are ready to learn new ways of being.
- Pastor's Note: Intuitively, I felt something shift in the room during these guided conversations.
- Using "I statements" can make a HUGE difference. I think/feel __________ when you ___________.
- Using "I hear you staying ___________, is that right?" can make a HUGE difference. (Although we discussed how unnatural this sounds, and how it can come across as patronizing, we agreed that since we're all practicing together learning this new way of talking, we'll assume the other person is really trying to listen to us.)
Part Five: Bible RePrise/ Prayer
As we wrapped up, I made an offhand comment about how I'd know the success or failure of the worship based on if the toys were cleaned up by time I was done packing up. Person said that since we talked about all accepting responsibility for things, everyone should help. They went and picked up the toys.
White Lutherans helped pray out loud (this is foreign to most of us raised in white Lutheran churches). I started each round, and for each sentence, we went around the table (you could say "pass") and everyone could contribute to the prayer.
Dear Creator God, we thank you for your creation of Calvary and for all the work you are doing here. We also thank you for . . . . .
Dear Redeeming Jesus, we ask that you help us with . . . . .
Dear Inspiring Spirit, we ask that you give us hope that . . . . .
Thank you for hearing all these things, and also the silent prayers of our hearts. Continue to be with us and help us to be a place that showers our entire neighborhood with your love and blessings. Amen.
And all the People Said Together AMEN!
Renewal efforts are in full force at Calvary! We're having a lot of fun, and there are a lot of kids around.
One thing I discovered in a conversation with my clergy coach (who is amazing, everyone in in the renewal process needs a coach, in my opinion) is that our congregation accidentally has developed a pattern of negative speech and complaining.
This is normal, especially in a congregation that has lived with chronic anxiety about their survival for so many years. While normal, it is also essential to change.
You can listen to the sermon where I first propose this idea here. We have begun our new project.
EPHESIANS 4:29 Project:
How's it Going?
Joy! Joy! Joy! Down in our Hearts!
Is your congregation doing this? How's it going?
Sept. Newsletter aRticle
Although learning a new way of doing things and culture change is hard, I know that we can do it for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of being a place where the Good News of Jesus is communicated to all those around us and all those who walk through our doors. I also know that when we start talking about culture change some people think that they must leave. Sometimes people can feel nervous or anxious, or try to control other things about the group when culture change happens. If you are having a hard time with this, or thinking about this, or even talking about this kind of thing, please, please come and talk to me. I’m always here for you to listen to your ideas and thoughts, and worries about what will happen with Calvary in the future. I know from reading and studying other churches in renewal efforts that having open and honest conversation is important, and that so is culture change.
Many of us were taught as children that to be Christian means to “be nice”. In some churches, that has meant not challenging people who are constantly bringing negativity, speaking meanly to others, using overly harsh or intimidating words, or are looking to blame “out there” and “the secular” for what’s happening inside our churches. I can’t do anything about out there, or parents these days. All we can do together is create a culture of physical and emotional safety inside our doors, and invite people to come. This is a topic that is coming up in a lot of churches this September, so I’d like to invite us into the topic, too. Remember, sometimes the best way to communicate the love of God is to help others understand when they are not communicating that way. A community that is centered on Jesus can help us grow, forgive us when we mess up, and teach us to be in healthy relationships with one another. Boundaries are loving, and they are nice, even if they can bring more challenges in the moment, in the long term, they bring about health and wholeness, along with honesty. Will you please take a moment to read the outline I shared with council and work together with me on this culture change? Thanks! I know from both research, by Bible, and my heart, that learning healthy communication and how to have healthy conflict with boundaries around bullying are one of the best ways churches can grow. Let me know how you’re doing with this. Let’s all keep working together as the community of love that God has created us to be. Thanks for being in this ministry with me!
School is starting and lot is coming out about bullying culture. It hurts people, can sometimes lead to death and mental illness, and leave permanent trauma scars in people’s brains and bodies.
- We need to learn how to recognize bullying behavior and how to stand up to bullies.
- If kids are experiencing bullies in school, we need to be sure that we, as the adults at church, are aware of how to stand up for ourselves and how to teach them. We also need to be sure that our church is a bully free zone.
- Whenever you hear someone say something in church that might be bullying, these things might happen
- You might feel a little funny flutter in your stomach.
- You might feel your cheeks turn red.
- You might feel warmer.
- You heart rate might slighting increase.
- We are often taught to ignore these things as a system, and they hurt us. It is no ONE person’s responsibility to respond to these things, but it is everyone’s responsibility. I can promise that nearly every time you feel a little funny and don’t speak up, someone else wishes they were brave enough to speak up, too, but don’t, because they think the community approves of the behavior because no one else spoke up.
- Often, when the system has been used to letting these things slide for a long time, it can be really, really scary to learn to speak up.
- Peter was afraid on the boat today, too. (Matthew 14:22-33). Gotta be scared all together, name it for what it is, and learn to speak up all together.
- If you notice that you are feeling one of those feelings above, you might ask someone close to you to grab your hand, and then you can speak up. Here are some choices:
- “I felt funny when you said that, I don’t know if that was ok.”
- “Please do not speak to people that way.”
- I just heard you say that you think this other person is less valuable than you, is that what you meant?
- I wonder how this other person felt when you said that?
- It seems that you need some attention here, can you try saying that more nicely or what you might really mean?
- I read in the Bible that we are supposed to build each other up as the Body of Christ. I wonder if you thought your statement built someone up?
- Please also read the linked article about the kinds of things that can happen when people start to stand up to bullies. Let Pastor Jess know if you’d like a paper copy, and if you want Large Print. http://mindbodyintegrativecounseling.com/tag/bully-retaliates/
- This is an important piece of our system change at Calvary. It will hurt. It will be hard. People might leave over it because they like things the way they are. However, we also must ask how many people have left before because of feeling unsafe or like things were not quite right in the ways we interact? I’m new, I don’t know, but I think we need to be asking the question as I’ve read and learned more about bullying in schools and churches as school is starting and there’s a lot being put out about it.
- Come and talk to me if you need/want to or are struggling with this.
- It’ll be hard, messy, and we’ll likely not be very good at it for a while. Let’s work at it together as the body of Christ, hold each other accountable, and try to pay attention to the larger and often unstated things and feelings and bring them into the open.
- Thanks for being in ministry with me and for us doing this work for God all together!
Pastor Jess is all about sharing the life-saving love of Jesus with the world. How she does it is up to the Holy Spirit.
Being "Nice" Christians
Changing Church Culture
Having The Conversation
Healthy Family Systems
Working On It
Find Me All These Places:
This work is licensed by Rev. Jessica A. Harren under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.