- Newsprint and/or Eraser Board
- Magic markers
- Bibles and Hymnals
- Healthy Congregations survey
- Ground Rules for Mutual Communication
- Paper and pens for small group leaders
- Folding chairs
- A bell or xylophone (used to get their attention)
- Timer or Clock
- Outline of the event in the form of a worship bulletin
It is best to set up the room ahead of time and to hold the event in a place where several small groups of chairs (about 6 to 8 per circle) can be setup around the room.
The event begins with worship. (Sample bulletin)
When it comes time to break into small groups, each leader gets a set of questions to ask the group. The leader should encourage responses to be brief and ensure that all people get a chance to speak. A scribe is chosen to make notes of any thing essential to the understanding of the church history.
The groups are asked questions such as these: (These questions are based on Psalm 13)
- Begin by introducing yourselves by telling the group how long you have been a member or friend of the church and how you came to this church.
- Has God ever rescued you? How and when? Did a member of the church or pastor play a role?
- What are you most thankful for about the church that causes you to “sing at the top of my lungs”?
- For what are you sorry for or regret concerning the life of the church, its members, its pastors?
- Are there any watershed moments in the life of the congregation, significant moments and accomplishments?
After about 20 minutes gather the participants back together.
Possible questions to ask the group are: (Write responses on newsprint.)
- Times in the life of the church that brought you joy?
- Times in the life of the church when you have felt sorrow and/or regret?
- Times in the life of the church that have been watershed moments?
I end the event with a Healthy Congregations questionnaire and process the results through the Ministry Toolbox software. The report is shared with the board or session at a later date.
At the next board or session meeting, discuss the event. Distribute the responses from the three questions and ask for overall impressions.
- What did you learn about yourselves through your participation in the vent?
- Based on the responses, what do you value most?
- Based on the responses, what do you long for?
At the last event, a coffee hour followed. I encouraged them to continue their conversations during that time. Most people lingered for more than an hour later.
I thank God for the author of Temporary Shepherds: A Congregational Handbook for Interim Ministry by Roger S. Nicholson, for providing the groundwork from which this event came from. The book has many more ideas on how to run similar events that deal with the developmental tasks of Interim Ministry.
For background and purpose see “A Day of Reflection and Discernment on the Past of a Particular Church“.