Category: Clerk of Session

Updates from the Clerk of Session

Posted by on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017 in Clerk of Session

Good morning…

I have some news to share with you from Session.  The Annual General Meetings on February 22nd for the budget presentation and February 26th for the full meeting are fast approaching. All committee and group reports are due very soon for the Annual Report. With this in mind, Session has been occupied with two considerations for the AGM.
2016 was a game-changing year at Session. Your Session sat 11 times in 2016 and at each meeting, the budget was front and centre. Last year a motion was passed that; Session would establish sustainable financing for St Andrews’ and that in association; we would resolve why the attendance at worship was changing.
Today I bring news that when you attend the AGM this year you will see the fruits of a lot of work.
On the budget and sustainable financing, Session will unveil the good news of what happened in 2016 and the plans for 2017. Many of you would like the news today but I’m going to ask you come to the AGM and celebrate the results achieved. It is our hope that many of you will appreciate how difficult it is to turn things around and especially quickly. 13 Elders and untold others crunched the problem for you.
On the second front, why are people not coming to church has been the subject of most Session meetings? I typed “why is church attendance declining” into GOOGLE and got 198,000 results. Here are some of the things people are saying about declining membership:
·       10 reasons why members are not coming to church
·       7 or 9 or 10 key reasons your church attendance is declining
·       How can you revitalize your church
·       How declining attendance effects worship.
There are many reasons, some global, some local that effect attendance.  Picking one is just not possible. A list of 10 possible reasons can be found on my blog – accessible through the St Andrews webpage if you are interested.
I’d like to share with you a comment from Session that has grown to reflect how Session has struggled with this issue.
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.”   
Today I’d like to advance Sessions plan that will reverse declining attendance here in Hespeler.
Late in 2016 Session reviewed a book recommended by Joni Smith - called "Beyond the Worship Wars; Building Vital and Faithful Worship” by Thomas G. Long.  Session decided that all of sitting Elders will read and discuss the ideas presented. Session will cherry pick the most salient ideas and implement them, with care that they fit into our missions and ideals. Secondly, Session is suggesting that the Congregation read this book for insight into the challenges and opportunities this represents.
In late 2016 Session met with Corey, our Music Director as she presented a program called “Blended Music at St. Andrews”.  This methodology is not new or even new to St. Andrews. Originally Rev. Linda Ashfield discovered that this systematic way to make worship “flow” led a deeper spiritual experience. In selecting Corey Linford Cotter as a Music Director we also hired a protégé of Rev. Ashfield.  The significance of theses connections to St. Andrews has allowed Corey to find a kind of consensus to music selection.  
Secondly, on January 21 Session held a special meeting that created a blueprint for change that is crafted specifically for us. The workshop, Moderated by Rev. McAndless looked at broad topics like; Re-engaging or Revitalization, Outreach – within St Andrews, Communication method changes, Christian Education must-haves, Worship Space and Worship Format including the way the front of the church looks and works during service, Care as in care for the members, plans for Elder/Deacon teams as well as other ideas like parking.
Out of this mix Elders found trends and common themes that reoccurred throughout. Communication was a thread that reappeared constantly – build a conduit that delivers what is happening and why seems obvious. The details of reaching all the congregation are difficult to pin down, though. Also common was the idea of creating a path forward that includes the opinions and voices of the church in building us up. Engagement, the flow of service and praise for meaningful worship are also key elements to foster.
This plan was intentionally created by Session to meet the expectations we heard from the congregation in early 2016 and feedback throughout the year. It is our fervent hope that with these plans and your help and input we can create significant change on a local level. To co-opt a phrase we are working locally to create global change.
This plans successes are only limited by the enthusiasm we provide and the understanding that everyone’s help and opinions are needed to make this church the one you want to attend. In doing so we create a church everyone wants to attend.
Please consider going to the Annual General Meeting and share in fellowship as we engage the future.

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Session Highlights 2016

Posted by on Monday, January 16th, 2017 in Clerk of Session

Session Report Highlights 2016

The Kirk Session with 14 sitting Elders held 11 regular meetings during 2016. No special meetings were held.The Annual General Meeting was held in February. At the regularly scheduled meetings a wide variety of matters were discussed and resolved. Below is a recount of the highlights of these meetings:


The Hespeler Place of New hope Advisory committee – terms of reference were adopted as written [September 2015].
In January a group met to develop strategies that would underpin the budget process for 2016. This group (Rev. Scott McAndless, Rob Hodgson, Donald Paddock, Ray Godin, Bob Neath, Ron Paddock and Vern Platt) was assembled in a round-table discussion concerning 2016.
Four major fundraising Session initiatives outlined and defined for 2016.
Session announced “We are holding a special study based on the document Body, Mind and Soul: Thinking together about human sexual orientation in the Presbyterian Church in Canada. We are holding this study to help us to understand the issues in order to feedback to the General Assembly as they try to formulate a path forward for the PCC.”
Once again Session considered parking at worship this time due to the changes by the City of Cambridge initiated on Queen Street Hespeler. The parking spots immediately in front of the church on Queen St. have been posted “no parking” while traditionally “Sunday only” was allowed.
Session approved a portion of the Saint Andrews Endowed fund be actively managed by the Cambridge & North Dumfries Community Foundation.


Session approved the 2016 budget of $234,512 as presented. This constitutes the document to be forwarded to both the pre-AGM financial meeting and at the Annual General Meeting for budget review.
Planning for the Rev. Jeff Veenstra memorial Walk-a-Thon planned for October 16, 2016 at Crieff Hills was announced.
Session created the “160 Group” to plan and implement the 160th Anniversary of St. Andrews Hespeler. This group in cooperation with the Mission & Outreach Committee are tasked to develop a creative, inviting and inclusive atmosphere for the July Hespeler Reunion festivities and the October Celebration of our 160th year.


Elder/Deacon elections for 2016 are announced and approved.  Elders serve on Session for a period of six years upon being elected unless they withdraw for other reasons. Elders may opt to be re-elected if they wish.
The Annual General Meeting passed a resolution to eliminate the recurring debt entries as seen for the last few years. The AGM resolution clearly stated that in 2016-2017 Session would research and develop a strategy to eliminate the debt and establish sustainable long-term funding. Session developed strategies throughout the year to meet these expectations.
Session authorized the insertion in the Bulletin on how the budget cuts impact: administration, the office, office hours and staffing. TBA weekly office hours and advisory the office will be closed Fridays (appointments only).


 St. Andrews authorizes an independent contractor to do bookkeeping and financial services replacing the Administrative Assistant (vacant).This would be set up on a pilot or trial basis and would involve the contract period of April 11 through to July 15, 2016. That Human Resources Committee commences a recruitment process to fill the part- time position of Administrative Assistant with 9 scheduled hours of work weekly.
Session discussed: Amazing Shrinking Tea Party, a re-invention of the meat pie sales, the Christmas Dream Auction and we will creatively research fundraising in 2016 - 2017.


Session approved that the Stewardship Committee development of sustainable finances for 2016 and beyond.  Inclusive of:
·         compiling detailed projections of all expenses and expense timelines
·         providing guidance on unfunded projects/liabilities and accumulated debt
·         provide guidance on 2016-2017 revenue and expenses
·         develop a process to create sustainable financial governance beyond 2017.
In association with the Operations Committee, Session formalized a cheque writing authority on behalf of St. Andrews Hespeler. This document outlines the procedures to be used to issue cheques and who may authorize a draft.


                Session reviewed the status of the election of Elder/Deacons 2016. 4 Elders were to be elected – one new Elder (Randy Rattansingh) and two re-elected Elders were confirmed. One Deacon was found and confirmed. Kim De Boer has graciously joined the Deacons ranks in 2016.
 The Clerk of Session briefed Elders on a working document called Revision of the Communion Serving Model.  Congregational numbers have reduced the need for a large number of servers at communion.  
Session reviewed the replacement of the Youth Group Co-coordinator (May 2016) upon the resignation of the current staff member. Session accepted a proposal from Joni Smith on to serve as an interim replacement up to June 2017.
Session approved the replacement of the addition roof by Thompson Roofing Inc. in the amount of $19,549.00 including HST to be completed as soon as feasible.
In realization of the AGM referendum to balance the budget and achieve sustainable financing, the Stewardship Committee delivered the following plan to meet goals.
·         That remaining funds from Share the Warmth, the Capital Endowment Fund and any giving doors opened in response to the need to re-roof be used to replace the “new” addition roof in 2016
·         We fundraise specifically for the Organ repair (“Buy a key” campaign)
·         Invent a loose change ongoing Ministry
·         We keep the Video projection system on a “warm pause”.
·         We fund any shortfall in our commitment to Hope Clothing not raised by donations as follows (70% from the Mission Fund and 30% from the Memorial Fund). 
·         With respect to the loan from Presbytery, we recommend repaying it over the remaining term ($2,500 per year over next 8 years). No use of the balance is currently scheduled. Backup funding for extreme emergency use only.
·         The schedule of Session approved fundraising be enhanced and promoted to achieve our goal.
       Upcoming event:  the Race to Eliminate Poverty a challenge to pit teams against each other in association with Hope Clothing and the Food Bank.


The Sustainability Task Team has been asked to; ascertain why attendance is falling, and reconstitute the task force to re-examine the funding new information received.  
Updates for September: Loose change Ministry is currently underway, Meat pie sale - in recognition of traditional fundraising well underway and Christmas Dream Wish Auction will also be returning to St. Andrews.
Christian Education will be reviving the pop can drive for the fall – funds raised will be donated to the Jeff-a-thon. In recognition of this, a trailer will be parked in the upper lot on October 2, 2016 part of the challenge to fill it!


The fall joint Deacon/Elder Meeting was convened with: a general meeting to start, fellowship and team building activities for Elders and Deacons ending in each group separating to meet.
The Stewardship Report was discussed at length on some changes in financing that need to be enabled currently. Due to confidentiality requirements, these changes will be revealed at a later date.
Mathew Brown has communicated that he wants to go the Knox College in preparation to become a Minister. The process starts at Session with recommendations forwarded to the Presbytery for intake. More information will be announced soon.


On Wednesday, December 14th we will be having a “Youth Ministries Potluck Dinner” for families with children Grade 7+.  This dinner will be organized in a way similar to a LOGOS dinner; with a time of team/group building, food & fun.  After eating we will brainstorm ideas and needs so that we can begin the process of rebuilding a Youth Ministry.
Session is recommending the congregation read “Reformed Worship.”   “Beyond the Worship Wars; Building Vital and Faithful Worship” by Thomas G. Long. In the past, Session has had book studies and hope to open the door for the entire congregation to participate. Session is exploring how we can get books.


Christian Education will create a “Little Library” outside the church in a place to be approved soon. A little library is a lending are where books can be borrowed or donated to others.   It is more or less an outdoor cupboard to encourage book lending. It will be monitored carefully to ensure that appropriate books are traded and available.


The Jeff-a-thon raised $30,000 for PWS&D and when matched 3 to 1 by the federal government this means a whopping $120,000 donated.  Awesome.  In the spirit of giving, St Andrews Hespeler won the competition for most dollars raised and a free luncheon in December.

The Stewardship Committee announced some very good news on the sustainable financing results. The meat pie sale and Christmas Dream Wish Auction have raised more than $8,000 in two events. More news is to follow on a significant change to this goal hopefully in the New Year. Certainly in time for the AGM.  

The Mission and Outreach Committee move towards a Mission Trip in 2017 and had a full schedule in 2016. Ably led by co-chairs Pete Moyer and Elaine McLean ensure a visible footprint of St. Andrews in all Hespeler events. Most notable this year -  The Great Hespeler Reunion.

St. Andrews has confirmed funding of Hope Clothing for 2017. From conception to established program only a little than 3 years has transpired. Jane Neath laid a firm footing with a business plan and financial framework in 2012-2013.  And with that leverage New Hope Clothing is off to a running start. The other instrumental force has been Karen Kincaid. Her day-to-day-operations, bootstrapping the launch of New Hope have created a social network with her enthusiasm.  Thursdays will never be the same!  Of note in 2016 a simple announcement on the internet for help with Syrian Refuges brought over 3,000 visits and dozens of calls to donate to New Hope.

In 2016 Session discussed and researched the movement of the piano and the pulpit a number of times. Session did approve the moves and has heard that some members are troubled by this decision. In recognition of this discomfort, a process to define what the arrangements on the dais need to be made to serve the congregation better have been started. In the near future, Session will be asking for recommendations, consolidating the results and presenting the plans before further changes are made.  Your participation in this process is greatly encouraged. Session thanks you for your input on this.

In the New Year, Session will invite Corey Cotter Linforth, Music Director to share the philosophy and workings of “Blended Worship Music” with Session. Session hopes to open up the understanding to the congregation on how blended worship music works. More information will be made available in 2017 on this.

The Clerk of Session has offered his resignation effective December 31, 2016. In respect to Session, I have confirmed I will stay COS until March 31, 2017 in an effort to select a replacement Clerk. I would like to thank the congregation, staff and Elders for the seven wonderful years I have spent.

The highlights provided are assembled chronologically to help communicate Sessions’ discussions to the congregation. In the course of the year many other topics were discussed, some of the minor significance and others of major importance. In this synopsis, you see the core of what happened excluding those issues that are confidential and must be protected and those too insignificant to include. If you have any questions I would be happy to respond.

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Notes form Session and Blended Music

Posted by on Monday, January 16th, 2017 in Clerk of Session

Notes from the Session

At the session meeting this week, Session discussed some important matters in the life of the church including:

· What our priorities in music and worship should be, and how we can to connect with the congregation to get effective feedback on proceeding.

· Budget priorities for 2017. The AGM will be held February 26 and the financial     
  pre-AGM meeting will be February 22. Please plan to attend.

· Elders agreed that we will read the book, “Beyond the Worship Wars: Building Vital and Faithful Worship” by Thomas G. Long  together. Several copies of this book will be made available in the church library (shortly) and we hope that many congregational members will read it too.

· Session agreed to hold a special planning workshop on Saturday, January 21, 9 am to noon. We will be looking at many aspects of the life of the congregation and what can be done to improve. Please be in prayer for Session and what they seek to accomplish in this meeting.

  You will hear the details of this important discussion and are urged to comment to Rev. Scott, Rob Hodgson or any member of Session or Deacons. If you are unsure who to communicate with, try the Church Office and ask for a list of Deacons and Elders.

In preparation for this renewed direction, Session would like to introduce you to a program designed to formalize music selection for worship. Session has endorsed a way to look at music as a component of worship for each Sunday. In effect, music will enhance worship and vice versa. It is called “Blended Music at St. Andrews”.  This methodology is not new or even new to St. Andrews. Originally Rev. Linda Ashfield discovered that this systematic way to make worship “flow” led a deeper spiritual experience. In selecting Corey Linford Cotter as a Music Director we also hired a protégé of Rev. Ashfield.  The significance of theses connections to St. Andrews has allowed Corey to find a kind of consensus to music selection.  You may remember November 13, 2016 at worship when Corey explained the music selected by prefacing how and why it was included. On that Sunday you saw Blended Music deconstructed – previously Rev. Scott and Corey worked behind the scenes to ease the kinks out before we even knew of the change.

If you want more information on Blended Music you are free to ask any Session Member, Rev. Scott or Corey – all of us would be delighted to answer or find answers for you. The most significant component is the congregation, we want your ideas…we need your comments.

Below are a limited introduction and explanation of Blended Music

Frequently, the congregation who are sharing comments are trying to make the music program better by making suggestions and criticisms. The problem has been that the ideas and dislikes have been highly contradictory. Music Directors have always done their best to include everyone's voice in our service musically and what has happened is that a practice of blended worship has naturally developed.

Blended worship means a lot of different things to different people and has a fairly broad scope. This definition will be limited to only music at worship. From a musical perspective, blended worship means including a variety of styles of music from different generations in most services. Generally, this looks like having at least one traditional piece and one contemporary piece in each service, using a variety of instruments (piano, organ, guitar, etc.), and using both old and new hymns. Because the service is stylistically disjointed, it becomes more important for it to be thematically unified.

Benefits of Presenting to Congregation
The hope is that an understanding of the methodology and reasons will become a thing the congregation is excited by. Session would like everyone to be able to see how they fit in to the music program and how their preferences are being met. We also think this will bridge the gap between various generations and groups.

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What does the Clerk of Session do?

Posted by on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017 in Clerk of Session


What does the Clerk of Session do?

Over the years I have had occasion to notice that not everyone knows what the Clerk of Session does. Although you could glean some understanding that a clerk is an administrative job and Session is the governing body of St. Andrews. You might note I prefer to use COS – which is both friendlier and shorter when I’m writing. Well…it’s not always a book definition that applies because it is much more organic than that.  You may have some kind of intuitive sense of what is involved in being a COS, but for anyone who is invited to accept this appointment it is difficult to know exactly what to expect. While recognizing that there is much more to being a COS than simply carrying out the prescribed duties of the office, it is nonetheless important to know what these are and what is generally expected of a Session Clerk. So below you will find the main duties and responsibilities:

The main duties of a COS are:
(a) with the Moderator (Minister) or Interim Moderator to call and prepare for meetings of the Session.
(b) to keep Minutes of Session meetings.
(c) to attend to correspondence, including the issuing of summaries of meetings.
(d) to be responsible for all Records of the congregation.
(e) to submit the Records of the congregation annually to the Presbytery for attestation (a kind of test of completeness and form), based on hundreds of years of historical record keeping.
(f) almost any administrative job can be assigned to the COS as required.
(g) generally to see to the functioning of the Session, to be concerned for the welfare of the congregation, and to have a working knowledge of the Church’s practice and procedure which is called the Book of Forms.

It’s (g) where the unspecified responsibilities and tasks seem to go from textbook to less defined. It’s also the best part of the job and the most demanding. I won’t go much farther in how this works because tomorrow it will be different – just thought you might like to know that it is: rewarding, task heavy and exciting to be your COS. Sometimes I feel like somehow I was groomed for this role. Sometimes you end up exactly where you want to be. Funny eh?

2 Timothy 2:5 
similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 

A part of the COS’s job is to prepare the Kirk Report for the Year End Annual Report of Saint Andrews Hespeler. Which you will find in the church mid to late February or at the Annual General Meeting on February 26, 2017

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10 Predictions about the Future Church And Shifting Attendance Patterns

Posted by on Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 in Clerk of Session

This isn’t about why people have left the church (that’s a different subject.) This is about church attenders who love God, appreciate the local church and are even involved in the local church, but who simply attend less often. This trend isn’t going away…in fact it’s accelerating; it impacts almost every church regardless of size, denomination or even location. It probably marks a seismic shift in how the church will do ministry in the future.
So…why are even committed attenders attending less often? There are at least 10 reasons.

1. Greater Affluence                                       

Money gives people options.

2. Higher Focus on Kids’ Activities                    

A growing number of kids are playing sports. And a growing number of kids are playing on teams that require travel. Many of those sports happen on weekends. And affluent parents are choosing sports over church.

3. More Travel                                                        

Despite a wobbly economy, travel is on the rise, both for business and pleasure. And when people are out of town, they tend to not be in church.

4. Blended andSingle Parent Families

Church leaders need to remember that when custody is shared in a family situation, ‘perfect’ attendance for a kid or teen might be 26 Sundays a year.

5. Online Options                                             

Many churches have created a social media presence. There are pros and cons to online church and there’s no doubt that churches with a strong online presence have seen it impact physical attendance.

6. The Cultural Disappearance of Guilt         

Back in the day people felt guilty about not being in church on a Sunday. The number of people who feel guilty about not being in church on Sunday shrinks daily.

7. Self-Directed Spirituality                           

People are looking less to churches and leaders to help them grow spiritually, and more to other options. The church in many people’s minds is seen as an institution.

8. Failure to See a Direct Benefit                     

People always make time for the things they value most.  If they’re not making time for church, that tells you something.

9. Valuing Attendance over Engagement           

The  most engaged people—people who serve, give, invite and who are in a community group—are our most frequent attenders. The church in many people’s minds is seen as an institution.

10. A Massive Culture Shift                               

All of these trends witness to something deeper. Our culture is shifting Seismically.

10 Predictions about the Future Church And Shifting Attendance Patterns

by Carey Nieuwhof.  February 23, 2015 
My name is Carey Nieuwhof. I'm a husband, a dad to two sons and a daughter-in-law, and the founding and teaching pastor of Connexus Church north of Toronto Canada. I'm also incredibly passionate about helping leaders lead like never before. That's why I write this blog, write books, host a leadership podcast and produce courses like the The High Impact Leader Course.
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Surprise! Oh no

Posted by on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 in Clerk of Session

Recently I realized that change was harder than it used to be. In my formative years change was always exciting, new and neat. Now-a-days change strikes me as not so exciting and sometimes a little threatening. Sometimes the sheer pace of change seems troubling. Technology seems to demand attention unlike the passive TV or radio we grew up with. The world is changing from what I am comfortable with. I'm sure many of us have read the headlines and have seen the dramatic things happening that clearly are not how society used to be. Sadly churches seems to have the similar challenges with change. The article below helped me in some ways to understand and I hope you might find a little to encourage you to be a change master too. 

Churches Can Handle Change, But They Don't Like Surprise

Introducing big changes is much easier if we give church leaders and members the time to process them.

by Karl Vaters
Churches can handle change.
If you’ve tried and failed to change things at your church, that may not feel true, but it is.

The problem in many churches isn't that they can't handle change. It's that they don't like being surprised by changes. And they shouldn't have to.
Wise leaders work very hard to reduce surprises as much as possible.
The more changes are needed, the more critical it is that church leaders and members know what’s happening and why.

A Promise Made and Kept
When I first arrived at my current church, a lot of changes were needed. The church was discouraged, unhealthy and broken. But they had a long, bad history of changes being attempted before the church was ready to receive or implement them. So, in my first church leadership meeting, I established this principle.
Never ask for a decision on a big issue in the same meeting in which the issue is introduced.

On small issues, it's not a problem. But big issues need time to simmer.
After all, most big issues have been simmering in our hearts and minds for weeks, months or years before we're ready to present them to the leadership team. We need to give those leaders some time, just like we needed time.

A Matter of Respect
We’ve made a lot of changes in our church in the last two-plus decades. Some good. Some not. But no one was ever surprised by them. Using that principle has been a credibility builder like no other. Even when people disagreed with the changes, they understood the process. They knew what was happening and why, and they had the opportunity to give input and state disagreements without fear of reprisal. In short, the lack of surprise gave the congregation one essential ingredient. Respect.  Everyone deserves it. Leaders require it. Churches will turn inward upon each other in dangerous ways without it. But when people have it, it’s amazing how much change they’re willing to take a chance on.

If pastors respect the church's need to process the issue, church members are more likely to respect the pastor's leadership through the change. Then we can discover the joyful truth that most churches are far better with change than we give them credit for

Give People Time to Ponder
Here's an example.
Over a decade ago, I was considering changing the name of the church. So I brought up the possibility to the deacon board. I told them I didn’t want any feedback right then. I asked them to pray and ponder it until the next meeting.
At the next meeting, the longest-serving, most respected deacon spoke up.
“When you brought up a possible name change, I was opposed to it,” he said. (Uh-oh) "But when my wife and I were on vacation, she found a pamphlet with the names of some local churches. When she read the name of one church, I told her 'I don’t want to go there. It sounds dull and boring.'” "My wife looked up from the pamphlet and said 'that’s the same name as our church.' “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” he admitted. “That’s how people see us. We need to change our name.” 

If I’d asked for comments on the possible name change when I brought it up, his negative response would have been the first seed planted. And, like a weed, it would have grown and choked out any chance for change. Instead, I gave him a month. And in that month, everything changed. Within a year we had a new name for our church. And we’ve made a lot more changes with the same process.

Take Your Time – And Give Some to Others
People need time to process big changes. After all, I’d had months to ponder it before I’d brought it up to them, and I still wasn’t sure. How do we, as pastors, expect people to make the right choice in 20 minutes, when we’ve had weeks, months, sometimes years to consider the question ourselves?

Most churches are far better with change than we give them credit for. As long as the church is relatively healthy, that is. If the environment is not just broken, but toxic and dysfunctional, different rules apply. But the leaders and members of a relatively healthy church want what every pastor wants. Necessary changes, properly understood, with enough time to think, pray, learn, discuss and implement them. Yes, this process takes a little longer. But doing something slowly and right is always better than doing it fast and wrong.

Copyright © 2015 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.

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Beyond the Worship Wars; Building Vital and Faithful Worship

Posted by on Saturday, December 31st, 2016 in Clerk of Session

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).

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