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September Newsletter

Dear Friends,

One of the many hats I (Lauren Hunter) wear in the OCE is that of director to a new project - The Resilient Church Project. Here we partner with a group of churches for two years and work to cultivate faithful, enduring resilience through collaboration, training, and access to Whitworth experts.

As we prepare to welcome a new cohort (2023-25), I’ve been reflecting on our first cohort that is preparing to end their two-year engagement in this project. Throughout this first go-around we have witnessed churches come together that would have never come together otherwise:

  • An immigrant church's pastor talking discipleship with non-denominational megachurch staffers
  • A church planter debating place-based engagement with established, traditional church pastors
  • A budding relationship between a 20-person neighborhood church and a historic landmark cathedral

And these are just a few of many examples of the beautiful collaboration that we have been able to experience.

We have also witnessed an incredible collaboration between Whitworth and the Church. Experts in church vitality, city planning, church history, and entrepreneurship have come alongside churches to learn, pray, and dream together. Churches have delved into the history of their tradition, their particular church, and their neighborhood. Leaders have learned about the demographics and needs of the context in which they serve. Church representatives have worked with our consultants to develop new initiatives based on a collective sense of what God is doing in their place and through their ministry. We have met together to speak honestly and vulnerably about the challenges the church is facing, her weaknesses, and how we can work together and partner with God to further God's work in the world. We have helped one another discern how to engage in this work based on each church’s unique location, strengths, and mission.

It's time for the church to band together and dream about the future together. As we look forward to gathering a new cohort, we hope your church will consider applying to be part of this project. Churches from all over the U.S. are invited to join us. The application is open now and closes November 23.

Learn more apply

A Few Updates

Our podcast, Where We Belong, is now available! New episodes are released every Tuesday. We hope that these conversations with pastors, theologians, students, and ministry leaders give you new insight into the church (in all its expressions) and hope for its future. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also find it here >>>

The Summer Fellowship Program has welcomed our student ministers back to campus after a summer of serving ministry sites across the U.S. If your ministry is interested in hosting a student fellow, the application is open. Find more information about applying here >>>

This summer, the Pacific Northwest Church Planting Movement spent a week immersed in the church scene of NYC and they learned a few lessons along the way. You can read more about their trip and the insights they gleaned in our recent blog post here >>>

New Resource: Church Self-Study Guide

We worked with church vitality expert and professor of sociology Mark Killian to put together a "Self-Study Guide" for churches. The guide was developed out of our experience working with churches in Phase 1 of the Resilient Church program. It is designed to walk churches through a process that will help leaders examine their church's mission, identity, and story and plan for the future.

At the link below, you’ll be sent a PDF with step-by-step instructions, explanations of research methods, and a simple worksheet to keep track of the whole process.

Download the guide

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We are grateful for your partnership.

Lauren Hunter & the OCE Team