Faithful Innovation Set to Begin this Summer
A man in Columbia, South Carolina who had been participating in the Faithful Innovation process was driving to the store. He passed a large gathering of people in front of a housing complex he’d never really noticed before. Having spent months dwelling in Acts 16, he was aware of the way the Holy Spirit can open doors on the spot, and was able to listen to the internal nudge that encouraged him to turn around. The Faithful Innovation process had made him curious about what God might be up to in the lives of his neighbors. He returned to the complex and saw people setting up tables and chairs. When he asked what was happening everyone said, “you need to speak to Rita.” Rita was a follower of Jesus who hosted a monthly lunch to build relationships and community in her low-income housing complex. The man joined them for lunch and got to know some of his neighbors. He listened to their stories and heard some of their longings and losses. Relationships were formed and continued to develop in the months ahead as he brought members of his faith community to the lunch to meet his new friends.
Acts 16 is the central dwelling in scripture text for the Faithful Innovation process because it’s all about the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It’s about the Spirit opening and closing doors and presenting unexpected opportunities for neighbors to join in relationship. In Acts 16, Paul is deterred from visiting Asia, has a vision of a Macedonian man begging him to “come and help us,” and then meets an Asian woman, Lydia, by a body of water outside the Philippi city gates. She and the women with her are God-fearers; they are eager to hear the news of Jesus and his liberating, loving way of life. Lydia and her household are baptized, and they invite Paul and his ministry companion Silas to stay at Lydia’s home until they leave Philippi.
On July 23, the Episcopal Church in Minnesota launches its Faithful Innovation Pilot in Faribault. St. Paul’s Winona, Christ Church Woodbury, Calvary and St. Luke’s Rochester, and Christ Church Red Wing will participate. During the first in-person training session, lay teams from each church will be apprenticed into simple spiritual practices they will teach their faith communities. Those practices include dwelling in the Word, dwelling in the world, sharing spiritual stories, listening to neighbors’ longings and losses, and neighborhood prayer walks. Based on what they and members of their churches hear as they listen to scripture, fellow church members, and neighbors, they will design simple, low-cost experiments to learn more about what the Holy Spirit is up to in their communities, and how She might want them to join up with her healing, reconciling work. Throughout the entire nine month process each church’s lay team will be accompanied by a lay leader or deacon from another church trained in group coaching.
Our faith communities are facing many complex challenges, and few of them have easy answers. Followers of Jesus need to continually learn what the Holy Spirit is up to in their lives and communities, and the learning they need to do is primarily spiritual and theological. The Faithful Innovation process has been used with over 400 churches and 50 denominational systems all over the United States. It has brought a deeper spiritual practice, new life, energy, and a curiosity for what God might be up to in the lives of neighbors to many different faith communities. Additional Faithful Innovation processes will be launched in Duluth beginning September 10, and in Minneapolis beginning September 17. For more information please see the Faithful Innovation page or contact the Rev. Canon Blair Pogue at firstname.lastname@example.org.