Faithful Innovation Update

The Rev. Canon Blair Pogue

Faithful Innovation Update

Faithful Innovation is an eight-month process in which lay leaders and their congregations engage in simple spiritual practices and small experiments to listen to and develop deeper relationships with God, other faith community members, and neighbors (the church’s neighbors and their own). The first ECMN Faithful Innovation process was launched in Faribault on July 23, 2022. Since then, 13 churches from all over Minnesota, large and small, urban, suburban, and rural, have gone through the training. Four additional churches began a Faithful Innovation process together on July 15, 2023.

There have been so many great stories and learnings! Each Faithful Innovation team is coached by a lay member or Deacon from another church, which is helping the Diocese function like a network. Coaches go through an eight-week class, which increases their skills and the ECMN’s capacity. The coaches are important, as is the fact that congregations go through this process together. They learn from and are inspired by each other.

The feedback has been deeply moving. As one lay leader wrote, “When Rev. X first asked me to participate, I was feeling ‘unworthy’ to ask these spiritual questions—I am a much more confident follower of Jesus now!” Another noted, “Participating in this journey has energized me and deepened my spiritual knowledge . . .” And yet another reflected, “Being with folks from other churches and hearing their insights and their struggles, was really helpful and meaningful for me. They gave me comfort, inspiration, and a sense of solidarity in the work we do together. Also, there are now many people and congregations that I can network with, consult, and ask for help if needed.” The Rev. Anna Doherty, who went through the entire process with lay leaders from her church, said the process, “has been truly transformative–I believe–for my church and for me too as clergy, to be perfectly honest. It has renewed my commitment to ministry in this changing way of being church in the world in ways that have been so helpful for me professionally, vocationally, and personally.”

On Saturday, September 23, 2023 anyone interested, and especially those leaders who have been through a Faithful Innovation process, are invited to the ECMN Gathering Space from 10am to 3pm to hear more about what we’ve been learning from participating congregations, try a few spiritual practices they can take back to their congregation, and to hear from the congregations who have continued to engage in small, low cost experiments to learn more about what the Holy Spirit is up to in the lives of their neighbors.

Some key learnings thus far:

  •  The incorporation of simple spiritual practices into the life of a congregation is energizing to regulars and newcomers.
  • There is no correlation between spiritual vitality and church size or location
  • Creativity, playfulness, and simplicity are important when getting people to try new things
  • Most members of our congregations want to talk about God and are curious about what God might be up to in their lives and neighborhoods
  • Being heard is transformational
  • Walking the church’s neighborhood and your own neighborhood with others, with a posture of curiosity, is eye-opening
  • Connecting with neighbors and learning more about their lives, joys, and struggles, is meaningful
  • Join up with your neighbors where they are already gathering
  • Get into public spaces so church members can not only host, but also be hosted by others
  • Some businesses are open to partnering with faith communities
  • Feedback loops, and reflection on learnings (what worked and what didn’t) is important.

For more information, or to find out about the next Faithful Innovation process, contact the Rev. Canon Blair Pogue at