Church Growth & Development


Meetings: Too Many...Too Long!

May 13, 2019
Meetings: Too Many… Too Long! Even amid the excitement of growing and developing church communities, a downside to congregational life is the every-growing opportunity to attend meetings! While meetings can be fruitful and productive, we’ve all unfortunately suff...

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After Easter...And Before...

April 29, 2019
After Easter… and Before… Our Lenten discipline is now likely a thing of the past. We made it through the desert of Holy Week and rejoiced at Easter. Now we settle in for Pentecost and settle in even more for summer. As school winds down and vacations wind up, c...

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Goodbye and Thanks

April 16, 2019
This is my last blog as your Canon for Church Growth & Development. As I prepare to move to San Diego to become that diocese’s next bishop (God willing and the people consenting), I look back on this ministry in Oklahoma with a full and grateful heart. This is a dio...

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Preparing the Church for Easter

March 26, 2019
Preparing the Church for Easter   The choir is rehearsing, the altar guild is planning the decorations, the priest is thinking about the sermon ... all to prepare for the most important Sunday of the year, the day we celebrate the Lord's Resurrection. But is yo...

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The Four F's: Barriers to Ministry in Congregations

March 26, 2019
The Four F’s: Barriers to Ministry in Congregations What are the barriers to ministry in congregations? How is it that we sometimes know what mission and ministries we need to be pursuing, but find ourselves unable to do it? What holds us back? I recently learned th...

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Hope for the Harvest - The Small Church at its Best

February 28, 2019
“The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into the harvest.” -Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2 Is your community motivated to spread the Good News of the Love of Jesus?  Do you feel bogged down by ...

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Marks of a Healthy Church

February 13, 2019
How do you grow your church? The answer, the Church of England has found, is not to concentrate on growing the church at all. The answer is to concentrate on making the church healthy. Healthy churches grow. This work is based on a study of fast-growing churches in the Church ...

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Guidelines for Healthy Congregations: Area I

February 05, 2019
The Diocese of Oklahoma is pleased to present our Guidelines for Healthy Congregations. This summary of diocesan policies, requirements, and recommendations for further growth will help congregations assess and improve their ministries in a number of different areas. We sugges...

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Guidelines for Healthy Congregations: Area II

February 04, 2019
Area II: Finances, Stewardship, and Facilities Canon Will Buchanan, Canon for Finance and Administration Area II concerns “finances, stewardship and facilities”. The purpose of these guidelines is to set forth the general responsibility and accountability for t...

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Guidelines for Healthy Congregations: Area III

February 03, 2019
Area III: Governance, Administration, Safety, and Policies The Rev. Canon Bill Carroll, Canon for Clergy Transitions and Congregational Life Area III concerns “governance, administration, safety, and policies.” In many ways, these guidelines promote structures, ...

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New Vestry! Now What?

January 30, 2019
By now, most of our congregations have held their annual meetings and elected new vestry members who are eager to get going and serve their church in their new leadership role. What do new vestry members need to orient them to their new ministry? And how do church leaders pla...

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Annual Meetings in the Mission-Focused Congregation

December 17, 2018
Preparing for the Annual Meeting is a difficult task each year – especially coming as it does just a few weeks after Christmas. Just putting together financial statements, a final budget proposal, and ministry reports is a big undertaking. Add on top of that the necessi...

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Angels Unawares: Welcoming the Stranger

December 09, 2018
Let mutual love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2 Every person who enters your church is a holy visitor, sent by God. They might not know it, of course. They might...

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The Christian Food Movement: Plainsong Farm

November 28, 2018
From time to time, this blog will highlight non-traditional models of ministry that are coming into being around the Episcopal Church. This month, we spotlight the Christian Food Movement and the ministry of Plainsong Farm, led by the Rev. Nurya Love Parish in the Diocese of West...

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Preparing Your Church for Christmas

November 28, 2018
Advent is here, and outside the church, the gift-buying and present-wrapping is gathering steam. Inside the church, however, we are preparing for the coming of the Lord by remembering his promise to come again, by listening to the odd and demanding prophecies of John the Baptist,...

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New Invite Welcome Connect Book Offers Stories

November 06, 2018
Many Oklahoma Episcopalians attended the Invite Welcome Connect conference that Mary Parmer led in Oklahoma City last February. Across our diocese, congregations have been putting many of Mary’s suggestions for reaching out to newcomers. Some of those congregations have b...

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Book Review: Canoeing the Mountains

October 19, 2018
In 1804, Thomas Jefferson sent Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark to lead an expedition to explore the newly purchased Louisiana Territory, and presumably to find the fabled Northwest Passage – a water route across the American continent that would open up...

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A Church Hospitality Quiz

September 26, 2018
Adapted From the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis This thought-provoking hospitality quiz provides an example of important questions your congregation should address when assessing its hospitality and evangelism. Take this little quiz on your own or with a group of your paris...

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How to Reach Your Community

September 05, 2018
One of the best ways to grow your church is to get your church’s name known in the community. If people see your church as involved, helpful, vibrant, and active in the local community, they are much more likely to think of coming to you when they are looking for a church...

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Evangelism and Invitation: Growing Your Church (Part III)

September 04, 2018
This is the third article in a series about growing your church. In Part I, I talked about praying for the church’s circles of influence. In Part II, I talked about developing members as evangelists. In this blog, I’ll talk about the ministry of invita...

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Building Healthy Vestries

August 19, 2018
Whether your vestry is composed of six or sixteen, the members are vital faith leaders for your church. Early in my ordained ministry, I heard remarks of numerous vestry members seeking to replace themselves, and some of them caused red flags to wave in my inexperienced self. You...

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Growth and Vitality in the Small Congregation (Part II)

August 08, 2018
In 1995, United Methodist pastor Ron Crandall conducted a study of 100 “small” (ASA 75 and under) churches that had experienced renewed growth and vitality. In 2008, he updated his study, and published it in a book that is a terrific resource for small-church leader...

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Evangelism and Invitation: Growing Your Church (Part II)

July 25, 2018
This is the second in a series of posts about growing your church. In Part I, I talked about how the ministry of evangelism and invitation begins with prayer. In this post, I’ll get to more specifics. Evangelism and Invitation are two different things. Evangelism is abou...

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Review of "Acts to Action"

July 24, 2018
 In publishing Acts to Action: The New Testament's Guide to Evangelism and Mission, Forward Movement has performed an important service to the Episcopal Church as we enter a new season of mission and evangelism. This excellent collection of essays, co-edited by our own Canon...

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The View from the Platform: General Convention 2018

July 18, 2018
 I’ve been a deputy to General Convention three times – 2009, 2012, and 2015. In 2018, I attended as a member of the Secretariat - which means my job was to sit up front (“on the platform”) at the House of Deputies and keep track of amendments as they...

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Evangelism and Invitation: Growing Your Church (Part I)

June 27, 2018
We Episcopalians love our churches – we love the beautiful liturgy, the welcoming people, the open and thoughtful approach to Scripture, and the way our churches do their best to follow Jesus. But even though we know our churches have something wonderful to offer, sometimes...

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Welcoming New People to Your Episcopal Church

June 25, 2018
Did you know the word “Episcopal” was the most searched word on Google after the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle? Thanks to the energy and hope Presiding Bishop Michael Curry stirred at the Royal Wedding, many of our neighbors are more curious than eve...

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There’s Power in Love

May 31, 2018
Joy, infectious charm, powerful preaching, outright evangelism – Presiding Bishop Michael Curry “stole the show” at the royal wedding. A stuffy royal occasion turned into one of the most powerful opportunities for the gospel to be shared that I remember in my li...

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A Pastoral Approach to Church Growth

May 31, 2018
 The Rev. Shelby Scott, author of this guest post, is rector of St. Patrick’s, Broken Arrow. At the request of Canon Susan, he writes to explain his leadership discipline of “13 pastoral contacts a day.” I was taken aback when asked to write on my “p...

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+To Know or Not to Know

May 16, 2018
Should the rector, vicar, or priest in charge know how much people pledge? It’s a common disagreement. Some clergy and parishioners fear that the priest would treat people differently based on the amount of their pledge.Some clergy feel they don’t understand money wel...

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Growth and Vitality in the Small Congregation (Part I)

May 11, 2018
 What’s the secret? In 1995, United Methodist pastor Ron Crandall conducted a study of 100 “small” (ASA 75 and under) churches that had experienced renewed growth and vitality. He wanted to discover the secret – how did they grow, in numbers and...

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Preaching for Congregational Vitality

April 30, 2018
  What role does preaching play in leading a congregation toward vitality? Given that a priest’s best opportunity to communicate with parishioners each week is a 12-minute sermon, how can our preaching help a congregation grow, spiritually and numericall...

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Sizing Up Your Congregation

April 12, 2018
  When I picture what it’s like being a pastor in a local church, there’s a part of me that always expects that church to be just like Father Tim’s church in the “Mitford” series[1] – a small church in a country town with a loving&nbs...

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Invite/Welcome/Connect: A Foundational Strategy for Church Growth

April 02, 2018
Back in February, over 200 Oklahoma Episcopalians got together, graciously hosted by the staff and volunteers of St. Paul’s Cathedral, to hear Mary Parmer and participate in the groundbreaking work of Invite/Welcome/Connect. All of us left inspired with many ideas for ...

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Tips for Easter from Our Canon for Church Growth and Development

March 09, 2018
The choir is rehearsing, the altar guild is planning the decorations, the priest is thinking about the sermon ... all to prepare for the most important Sunday of the year, the day we celebrate the Lord's Resurrection.   But is your church really ready for East...

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