New Vitality Workshop Available to Churches

Post a Comment » Written on July 17th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (July 17, 2007) – John Wenrich is committed to sharing a new beatitude: “Blessed are those churches that confront their current reality with hope, honesty and faith, for there is no vitality without reality.”

He has been passionately spreading that word since last year, when he became the first director of church vitality for the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism (CGE) of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

“In John 8:32, Jesus said, ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ Knowing the truth is the reality, and being set free is the vitality,” Wenrich says.

WenrichTo bring this message to churches, Wenrich has developed Veritas, a one-day workshop for clergy and laity. Veritas is a Latin word for truth. “When I think about Veritas, I think about warning and hope,” Wenrich says. “Warning and hope are the two elements found in the seven letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation.”

All churches can benefit from the workshop, not just those that are struggling or have seemingly reached a plateau, says Wenrich, noting that, “Even healthy people should see a doctor once a year to hear the truth about their health.”

The Veritas workshops are presented only on Saturdays so that everyone can attend. First Covenant Church in Superior, Wisconsin, hosted the first event. Ten pastors and 35 lay people attended, representing 10 churches. The success of that workshop has led to others across the country.

“I started Veritas because I was receiving many invitations from smaller churches to do a leadership retreat with them,” Wenrich says. “While I would like to visit every church personally, it is just not possible. In order to be a good steward of the resources that God has entrusted to the Covenant, the idea of a cluster event came about. So every time I get a request from a church to visit – regardless of size – I ask them to consider hosting a Veritas event for their region.”

Veritas is free for participants. CGE pays Wenrich’s expenses, and the conference generally provides the lunch. “Costs for the host church are almost nil, but they are responsible for administration,” Wenrich says. CGE supplies the host church with promotional packets, flyers and purpose statements as well as other material.

“Veritas is not a technical diagnostic tool,” Wenrich says. “It is designed to get the conversation going in a civil, compassionate, Christ-honoring way and give people a general and honest feel about what is happening in their church.”

Wenrich emphasizes he does not come to the workshop with specific answers for a congregation’s situation. “The answers are not in the data I present,” he explains. “The answers are found in the conversations people have about the data as the Holy Spirit leads and guides. They are the experts on their church, not me.”

The morning sessions focus on the “necessity of a behavioral covenant, the marks of a healthy missional church, the four types of established churches, and the strategies for each type of church,” Wenrich says. Participants are asked to self identify which of the four types of churches their congregation most resembles.

“The afternoon is spent talking about VIM and vigor: Vision, Intention and Means,” Wenrich says. “I finish up the workshop by teaching a few constructs – diagrams that help the people see into the reality of their situation. These constructs help the churches tell the truth about themselves.”

Wenrich says his goal is for every church to be healthy and missional. “By healthy I mean pursuing Christ. By missional I mean pursuing Christ’s priorities in the the world.”

Churches of all sizes can experience vitality, Wenrich says. Small churches can make a big difference in their communities, he notes, adding they don’t need to act like scaled-down large congregations.

“They should just be authentic,” Wenrich says. “Focus on one goal a year. Vitality starts in the heart of God, not in a program. Use what little means you do have – put it in the hands of God and ask him to multiply it.”

Wenrich has started a blog to discuss issues regarding church vitality. More beatitudes Wenrich has written can be found in the CGE section of the Covenant website.

For more information on the workshops or other issues about church vitality, email Wenrich or call him at 773-907-3379.

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