Written by Anthony Moujaes
To help churches become innovative in today’s world, it takes a spark from within. That's the reason why the Center for Progressive Renewal is reaching out to both pastors and lay leaders, gathering a range of people for Prophetic Renewal, the center’s upcoming conference for reinventing church.
"We’re strongly encouraging teams from churches to come. It’s an audience for anyone wanting to start a new church or renew a church," said Cameron Trimble, co-director and CEO of CPR in Atlanta, "with the impetus being we want to reignite within congregation leaders a way to bring new life to their churches."
The Center for Progressive Renewal — supported by the United Church of Christ’s Local Church Ministries, and Church Building and Loan Fund — announced Prophetic Renewal: A Conference on Starting or Renewing Your Church as the focus for its annual New Church Leadership Institute (NCLI) Aug. 6-9. Prophetic Renewal will deal with six major themes including global trends that are reshaping what it means to be church in this time. Leaders will learn how to "retool" themselves to lead churches into a new age, and how to build sustainable ministries for the present and future. Now in its seventh year, NCLI features church planting and renewal experts within the progressive church, and is one of the main programs of the Center for Progressive Renewal.
The Rev. Dave Schoen, leader of LCM’s congregational vitality and discipleship team, said that the NCLI is an energizing moment to "reclaim and embolden" a church’s vision for 21st-century ministry.
"Renewal in church and culture today starts with the embrace of prophetic vision and movement," he said. "Each year, I see the impact that the event and the Center for Progressive Renewal makes on new and renewing congregations throughout the UCC and more. People who bring a team of church leaders will be ready to ‘do’ church in a new way."
Leaders who represent mainline denominational churches, emerging neo-monastic and non-denominational churches will present at the conference. It’s one of the most diverse groups of speakers ever, Trimble said.
"[The speakers] come from many different tribes — they’re not all UCC speakers — and the event will attract an ecumenical audience," Trimble said. "So people who attend will leave with practical, tactical resources and tools, and relationships to begin innovating in their ministries when they get back home."
The event begins with a pre-conference on Aug. 6 with full-day activities to help participants dive deep into several topics. The themes of for pre-conference discussion include "Pre-Launch Church Planting," "Social Media in Ministry," "Post-Launch Church Planting," "Children and Youth Ministry in the 21st Century," and "Social Justice: Community Organizing Training for Your Church Leaders."
The NCLI will also take groups out into Atlanta to the Martin Luther King Jr center and other historic areas of the city where justice has defined culture as a way of experiencing historic ministry work. Trimble also added that seminary credit, through the Chicago Theological Seminary, is available for those who request it.
"Everyone has said that you leave with practical resources they can apply in their congregations the next day. They carry a network of colleagues throughout their career," Trimble said. "In a sense, in last three years, it’s like they join the CPR family and become entrepreneurial innovators."