Session received a book review from Family Ministries Co-ordinator, Joni Smith in December.  Joni is working towards completing another course from Knox College entitled “Reformed Worship.”  Part of this study included a required book called

“Beyond the Worship Wars; Building Vital and Faithful Worship” by Thomas G. Long. A very interesting read that explores the nature and best practices of churches that are growing in vitality right now. This book addresses a lot of issues that we have been hearing about. 

 “In brief there are 9 Characteristics of Vital Congregations listed with explanations.  They are:
              o   Vital Congregations make room, somewhere in worship,  for the experience of worship.
o   Vital and Faith Congregations make planned and concerted efforts to show hospitality to the stranger.
o   Vital and Faithful Congregations have recovered and made visible the sense of drama inherent in Christian worship.
o   Vital and Faithful Congregations emphasize congregation music that is both excellent and eclectic in style and genre.
o   Vital and Faithful Congregations creatively adapt the space and environment of worship.
o   Vital and Faithful Congregations have a strong connection between worship and local mission, and this connection is expressed in every aspect of the worship service.
o   Vital and Faithful Congregations have a relatively stable order of service and a significant repertoire of worship elements and responses that the congregation knows by heart.
o   Vital and Faithful Congregations move to a joyous festival experience toward the end of their worship services.
o   Vital and Faithful Congregations all have strong, charismatic pastors as worship leaders.

“I would recommend that you read this book.  It is easy to read and not terribly long, but will make you think about why we do, or should do, some things and the theology behind the reasons.” Says Joni.

Session Elders have committed to read this book in 2017 and invite you to join us in exploration of real Vital and Faithful Congregations in the world today.  Session is actively exploring how we can make the book available to the entire congregation.  Imagine a book study open to everyone focused on intentionally making St. Andrews Hespeler a Vital and Faithful Congregation for future generations.

To quote an Elder at Session in December 2016 –We know that the Presbyterian Church of Canada is struggling to keep members, just as most organized churches in North America are.  This does not mean St. Andrews’ Hespeler has to follow this pattern. We have choices.”   The quote above is a recount of the discussion and may not be 100% verbatim (Rob).