Farming Church

Council decided to get involved with the SC Synod in the Farming Church process that’s based on the book of the same name by Mark E. Tidsworth.  The idea behind Farming Church is to cultivate adaptive change in congregations, much like a farmer cultivates the ground to produce good crops, and includes 7 Key Cultivations.  The task is for Council to spend time monthly examining each Key Cultivation in depth, then developing 1, 2 or 3 new initiatives or emphases for each that will cultivate that particular Key Cultivation.  This is a 2-year process, and the Key Cultivation for September is Faith, with Trust coming in October and Leadership in November.  We take the month off from Farming Church in December, and pick up “Cultivating Vision” from January to July 2020.  Urgency, Discovery and Alignment are covered in August through November 2020.  By the time we get to January 2021, we’ll be at the Implementation stage that will take us through May 2021.

Each month, Council will meet for a structured hour discussion on the topic, with the outcome being 1, 2 or 3 initiatives or emphases that will cultivate that particular topic.  Over time, we expect some of those initiatives or emphases to come to conclusion, be rolled up or included in other initiatives or even discarded – all are good outcomes.  We are taking this structured approach to examining our collective faith journey, opening ourselves to what God would have us do so that we become more of the congregation desires us to be.  Certainly along the way we’ll make changes and adjustments as we fine-tune our developing plan, but in the end we fully expect to be a larger, better organized, and more faithful congregation.  We embrace the fact that we are a liturgical, ELCA Lutheran style congregation, and we want to introduce others to our way of worship, and looking for mission-congruent change that enhances our worship style.

We do have to accept the fact that less and less of modern society feel religion is important to them, less adults today have been raised in a church home, and many simply do not see or feel the need to worship.  Mark Tidsworth in the Farming Church book points out that the decline in the Christian church we’re witnessing is actually a huge opportunity for the church to make its most significant contribution to the world.  The church is poised to become the fertile ground for God’s mission to grow strong and fruitful, and for each of God’s people to become a more loving version of themselves.

That’s a tall order, but with God’s help we CAN become the church God wants us to be, and each of us can be the Disciple of Christ Jesus we are seeking to be.  And together, we can demonstrate to the world what the church really is and bring others to what we know to be true about God’s church.

Council met on Sunday September 18 after the 10:30 service to take on “Cultivating Faith.”  In our discussion, we came up with 3 initiatives that we feel will cultivate faith here in CVLC.  First, we committed to increase Sunday School attendance.  Many members of Council, like many members of the congregation, do not take advantage of this Christian Education opportunity.  The reasons are many, but the fact is we’re not participating in Sunday School like we do worship service.  We, as members of Council, have committed ourselves to reversing that trend, firstly by showing up for, and participating in, Sunday School.  Currently, we have age-appropriate classes and two adult classes – soon to be a third.  Starting on September 22, we’re reviving the “Current Events” Sunday School class in the Fellowship Hall.  This is more of a free-form class as we want to let the world events and concerns on the minds of students drive the conversation.  The Readings for that Sunday will always be an inspiration for discussion, but anyone and everyone not in another class are included in this class.  Whether you’re teaching or participating in Sunday School class, you’ll soon see a few more faces as Council members get a little more involved.  And don’t be surprised to receive an invitation to do the same.

You’ve already seen the second initiative – Pastor Fred will include in the weekly CVLC Online a “Seeds for Sunday” article that provides a preview of Pastor’s sermon that week and includes the Bible passage he’s focused on for that week.  The idea is to provide the congregation with a preview for us to dwell on and consider, as we prepare and look forward to the Sunday worship service.

The third initiative will take a little bit of effort.  We want to create a list of daily or weekly devotional sources that we, as a congregation, find useful in our individual faith journeys.  In addition to the materials and sources we already provide, we want to collect and maintain a list of sources that our members enjoy.   If you’ve ever done a Google search for “daily devotional” you’ve seen the nearly overwhelming number of offerings.  What was want is a much shorter list of known useful sites and sources that individual members use regularly and share that list with anyone who’s interested.  If you currently receive devotional materials and want to share that with others, please forward that site or source to the church office.  Lane Kochert has volunteered to get this list started, and once the initial list is generated, we’ll share it with the congregation.

Council feels that these three initiatives will cultivate faith among congregation members, but of course much depends on what you, the reader, does.  It’s Council’s desire that every member takes advantage as they can of the educational and worship opportunities provided at CVLC.

And you are invited to the next Farming Church meeting – Cultivating Leadership will be the topic - and again we’ll look to create 1, 2 or 3 initiatives or emphases to enhance church leadership in our congregation.  That meeting is scheduled for Sunday October 20, following the 10:30 worship service.  Lunch will be provided, so we’ll need a rough count of who is coming.  We’ll be asking prior to worship services on the Sundays prior to October 20th to get that information.

We’re opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit guiding and directing our steps and our work together, and you are certainly invited and encouraged to join in the process of Growing God’s Church.

Mike Metzler
CVLC Council and Congregational President