Donna Claycomb Sokol and Roger Owens led us in a Day of Learning on June 5, 2018, at Knightdale UMC, sharing from their co-authored book, A New Day in the City.
About the Day: When congregations need renewal, we often look for proven strategies we can apply. But that is not what we need. We need to know how to host the conversations out of which renewal will emerge. There is no quick fix. This workshop introduced participants to four key conversations that can lead to congregational renewal and provided space for participants to imagine how they could take these conversations into their own contexts.
The four key conversations are:
- The Pruning Conversation. We often think about ministry as “adding,” and certainly renewal often means new adventures in ministry. But we don’t start there—we start by asking the difficult question: What are we doing now that should stop, so that new fruit might burst forth?
- The Vision Conversation. Pastors and lay leader have been told for a long time that a church needs a clear vision of where they want to be in a few years. But is that really the case? This conversation challenges that assumption, and offers a liberating view of vision as a landscape within which a congregation seeks to live and serve.
- The Strategic Planning Conversation. We’ve also been told that we need a clear plan to get to our vision—a roadmap. But this conversation invites congregations to think about a process of discerning next steps in ministry, rather than writing a well-defined map. This refreshing approach will inspire leaders to tackle planning differently.
- The Mission/Evangelism Conversation. For too long, mission and evangelism have been distant cousins, kept at arms-length from one another. But renewal can come when we learn to hold them together. A renewed sense of how mission and evangelism relate can inspire deeper and more holistic engagement with our communities.
About Donna Claycomb Sokol:
Donna Claycomb Sokol is the pastor of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church in downtown Washington, DC. Since Donna’s appointment to the congregation in July of 2005, the congregation has transitioned from an elderly congregation in decline to a growing congregation composed of many young adults who are making a vital difference in the heart of the nation’s capital. Donna earned her undergraduate degree in economics from William Woods University, her Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, and her Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary. Prior to responding to her call to ministry, Donna served as a White House intern and then spent three years on Capitol Hill, serving on the staffs of a U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator. Her other church appointments include Minister of Congregational Care at First United Methodist Church in Hendersonville, NC, and Director of Admissions at Duke Divinity School. Donna is the co-author of A New Day in the City (Abingdon, 2017). She serves as a member of the Duke Divinity School Board of Visitors and regularly speaks on issues of faith and vocation, congregational renewal, and ministry in the margins.
About L. Roger Owens:
Since 2013, L. Roger Owens (PhD, Duke University) has been associate professor of Christian spirituality and ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Roger spent eight years as a pastor in North Carolina serving churches with his wife, Rev. Ginger Thomas, before moving to Pittsburgh. Now as a professor, writer, and retreat leader he offers students and other audiences a new, refreshing way to think about ministry, leadership, and spirituality.
Roger is the author the books Abba, Give Me a Word: The Path of Spiritual Direction, What We Need Is Here: Practicing the Heart of Christian Spirituality, and most recently A New Day in the City: Urban Church Revival. He is a frequent faculty presenter in the Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation, teaching broadly in Christian spirituality. Roger and Ginger are the parents of three school-aged children: Simeon, Silas, and Mary Clare.