by Betty Pries (foreword by Garry Janzen)

As MCBC congregations, these 10 Characteristics of Thriving Congregations are worthy of our consideration. These have been put together by Betty Pries.  May God be with us as we seek to thrive as beacons of the love of Jesus in our congregations, our neighbourhoods, and around the world.

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1. Empowered and Empowering Leadership  
• A leader people want to follow
• A leader that can go to the hard places and into the tough questions
• A leader who loves the people unconditionally
• A leader who can read the Bible and the times in which we are living
• A leader who awakens and nurtures the gifts of the congregation

2. Passionate Spirituality
• Spirituality that plumbs the depths: Faith that speaks to head, heart, will
• Spirituality that allows for questions, invites people on a journey
• Spirituality that is rooted in reading the Biblical story with fresh eyes
• Spirituality that boldly and humbly makes claims about who God is, what Jesus was about, what the Spirit is doing…

3. Loving and authentic Relationships  
• Engaging in conversations that matter – the freedom to be real with one another
• Healthy interpersonal relationships
• Creating a sense of belonging – “this place cares about me”

4. Sense of Values, Identity, Purpose
• Clarity of fence posts – naming what the congregation is clear on (core values/identity)
• Listening for God’s leading
• Keeping a sense of purpose in front of the congregation
• Talking about our values, identity, purpose to ourselves

5. Effective Structures and Appropriate Resources
• Structures that are driven by a sense of mission, values, identity and purpose
• Structures that are flexible, clear, efficient and effective
• Meeting spaces, finances and resources that allow a congregation to flourish without allowing the congregation to become complacent

6. Inspiring Worship
• Worship that awakens people to their identity as God’s beloved
• Worship that invites encounters with God’s presence
• Worship that occurs on Sunday mornings or not on Sunday mornings

7. Holistic “Smaller” Opportunities to Connect within the larger Whole
• Inviting participation in our programs/ministries
• Encouraging smaller opportunities to connect as locations for encountering God’s presence and for loving and authentic relationships
• Placing leadership energy to build connections and support faith development within cohort groups
– Age cohort groups:  Children, youth, young adults, seniors
– Gender cohort groups
– Service-based cohort groups (choirs, outreach groups)
– Needs-based cohort groups (support groups)
• Placing leadership energy to build connection opportunities between cohort groups and the larger community (outreach)
• Talking about our programs/ministries to ourselves

8. Gift-oriented Ministry
• Making space for a wide range of participation
• Inviting people’s gifts to share in the ministry of the church
• Asking more of people not less
• Leaning into, celebrating and deepening the areas God is already blessing among us

9. Need-oriented Engagement with the World
• Engagement/action that emerges from the intersection point between the congregation’s gift/call (identity, values, purpose) and world’s need
• Engagement/action linked to a sense of God’s activity in the world
• Engagement/action that follows the action/reflection cycle
• Engagement/action that is humble – all, including those in the congregation, are on a journey of transformation
• Courage – the congregation may be called to take risks, do great things, go to uncomfortable places
• Talking about our engagement/action to ourselves as a way to solidify the tie between mission and identity, values and purpose and as a way to encourage participation

10. Marketing/Action-Reflection
• We pay attention to and tell the story within our congregation of how God is alive in our community and congregation.
• We watch for moments of surprise, grace, calling, blessing and pay attention to how these moments are forming who we are and to what we are being called.
• We “market ourselves to ourselves” – talking about our successes and our failures so that we may draw others in while also paying attention to the places where we might shift our action.
• We engage the action-reflection discernment cycle, paying attention to questions of identity and purpose.
• We share our stories of transformation with the world around us – both personally and through our vehicles of community engagement