ACTS for Vitality is a journey intended to help congregations renew their vitality. It was developed within the Sierra Pacific Synod for congregations of the Sierra Pacific Synod. Here is a visual snapshot and overview of the ACTS program.
We intentionally spell ACTS in all-caps. It is an acronym for the things that happen on this journey:
Connecting and/or Collaborating
We take our inspiration from Acts 2:42-47:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (NIV translation)
Grounded in scripture, transformational ministry is always part of the story of the disciples and apostles throughout Christianity. ACTS for Vitality is an opportunity to go through this covenanted and intentional vitality journey with other congregations, learning from and with one another.
Our goals are to:
Stir up and sustain the life-giving mission and ministries of congregations centered on relationship with God, with one another and the world.
Develop and discover new ways of discipleship (followers) and apostleship (witnesses) for the 21st Century church.
Increase relational connections, collaborations and visibility of congregations in evangelism and justice work in their respective neighborhoods.
Prioritize the gift and challenge of authentic diversity as a faith community.
Strengthen relationships among congregations and Lutheran (and Ecumenical) collective action in their communities by overcoming silos and walls of isolation.
As with any journey, it is a matter of getting prepared, setting out, and then moving beyond once the journey is complete.
Discerning and Covenanting
A congregation prayerfully decides whether to join in the ACTS for Vitality journey. They go through a discernment process, aided by the Synod ACTS for Vitality Team. There is an orientation session to explain the journey and to aid with next steps. There is an assessment of a congregations’ openness and readiness to participate in the journey. Once they have decided to continue, the congregation forms a small Congregational Vitality Team of four to seven leaders, whose gifts complement one another. The congregation makes a covenant between themselves and the Synod.
While in this process, congregations may know of other congregations in similar circumstances as their own. They are encouraged to invite these other congregations to join them in this journey.
Here is a roadmap for your congregation to guide you int his discernment process.
The ACTS Journey – Cohort and Workshops
The congregation's team joins a cohort of teams from several congregations. The teams in the cohort then support and hold one another accountable as they participate in the journey.
Over a period of 18 to 24 months, the cohort meets for a series of seven workshops. Each workshop consists of a three-hour session, held on a weekend, once per quarter. Workshops will be held on-line or in-person, depending on the pandemic situation.
Each workshop is structured like a worshipful time together: Word, Meal, and Sent.
Word: Workshops begin with dwelling in the Word, learning and reflecting on new faith practices.
Meal: Then there are interactive presentations and discussions on the topic of the day.
Sent: Finally, participants are invited to practice in their settings what they have learned.
Workshop topics relate to one another, like a spiral, moving through listening to God in scripture, in our congregation, and our neighborhoods, discovering our role as disciples and apostles, discerning how we participate in God's plan, developing vital and sustainable congregational partnerships for mission and ministry.
During the journey, congregations will have access to skilled, trained, and dedicated coaches. Rostered leaders are also encouraged to become coaches.
During workshops, congregational teams will learn vitality tools and be trained in planning and implementing short- and long-term innovative outreach. They will learn how to reach out to new people, becoming good neighbors and bold followers of Jesus Christ. Congregations will be equipped for sustained response to injustices, with a commitment to authentic diversity.
Staying connected and mutually accountable
Completing the workshops is not a "graduation." Our hope is that each congregation has experienced transformation, and is ready to write their own chapter in the Book of Acts. But the congregation does not do this alone. Our hope is the relationships within the cohort and the wider community become mutually nurturing and sustaining.
What Does It Cost?
Each congregation who will participate contributes $500.00.
ACTS for Vitality is a testament that we truly a church together. This initiative is in partnership with the whole church: churchwide, synod and congregations. Our Synod receives financial support through the Synod Vitality Grant as seed money, which defrays some of the cost. It also receives leadership support and training from churchwide and other synods who have similar vitality initiatives. Thank you for your generous mission support that supports all vitality initiatives in synods and congregations.
Workshop Themes and Topics
The seven to eight workshops are all together the ACTS journey and form an overarching continuum to reach the goals of ACTS for Vitality. Each one builds upon each other going deeper and wider in our mission and ministry. Tools are offered during each workshop and yet they become only alive upon the prayerful listening, planning, and implementation as sent disciples and beloved community. The table below summarizes the topics covered in the workshops. Each workshop is also form as a worship liturgy and God is in the midst of each movement: we listen, we are fed, we respond, we are sent. Please click here to learn more about the themes and topics of each workshop.
We had some excellent help putting together these workshops and the curriculum behind them. Thanks to our consultants:
Dr. Kyle Schiefelbein-Guerrero, Steck-Miller Assistant Professor of Worship and Liturgy, United Lutheran Seminary, Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Carol Jacobson, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, CA
Rev. Dawn Roginski, Witness Discipling Team Chair, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, San Mateo, CA
Dave Daubert, DMin, PhD., Day 8 Strategies, ELCA Congregational Vitality Consultant
Want to know more?
Check out our presentation on YouTube
Or, contact our Director of Evangelical Mission and lead for the ACTS for Vitality Team:
Rev. Teresita Valeriano, email@example.com, Director of Evangelical Mission, Sierra Pacific Synod
Team Members also include:
Linda Babcock, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Granite Bay
Dave Birdsall, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Saratoga