October 2019 e-news from the Siburt Institute

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Realism and hope
Recently I had the honor of consulting with a lively, growing, suburban congregation. Although no church is perfect, several things stood out about this church. One could argue that their growth comes because they are located in an area where houses are sprouting up out of the prairie like sunflowers. One could say that they are growing because young families are moving into the local neighborhoods; those young families want to find a church home. Those things would certainly be true. However, in my four days with this congregation, several other factors emerged. These reasons for growth transcend simply being at the right place at the right time. In actuality, these factors are much more foundational than being next-door to a thousand new homes. Here is what I saw – which is what I see in most thriving congregations…
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Looking Team
“When the right church and the right minister find each other, everybody wins.” These words from Randy Harris encapsulate the heart behind the Looking Team, a group that helps forge these connections. Read more about the team’s story from Harris and Beth Ann Fisher (’93), Siburt Institute graduate assistant. Read now.
Summit 2019 was a success in many ways. Registration grew by 22 percent this year, and we noticed increased student participation as we expanded our student programming. But perhaps the most astonishing is the surge in online traffic, measured as “views.” By Oct. 1, video recordings of the theme sessions had already been viewed more than 30,000 times on Facebook alone. These sessions are easily accessible on YouTube for you to watch and share with friends. Watch now.
The not-so-cheerful giver
Can you relate to many churches’ experience of asking members to pledge financial support for the upcoming year, and then spending the next year trying to get people to make good on their commitments? In a recent Mosaic article, Tiffany Dahlman, who ministers at Courtyard Church of Christ in Fayetteville, North Carolina, shares how that congregation took a different approach this year, grounding its process in discipleship. Read more.

Eddie Sharp at Agape Conference
Consulting partner Eddie Sharp (’90 D.Min.) is speaking at the Agape Conference (formerly the United Voice Worship Conference), with a session titled “ ‘The Talk’ as a Beginning of Understanding, Respect and Love.” Join Sharp and a diverse team of speakers and worship leaders Nov. 1-3 in Houston. Learn more and register.

Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative (CMI)
Earlier this month, we spent a week with early-career ministers at a CMI retreat. “Because of the interactions with other ministers and extended time of contemplative prayers, I am never the same,” says Ian Nickerson (’16), evangelist at Minda Street Church of Christ in Abilene and a CMI participant. “I leave the retreat more aware and in tune with the presence of the Spirit of Christ.” Learn more.

Biblical storytelling resources
Dr. Cliff Barbarick, who teaches New Testament in ACU’s College of Biblical Studies, has a passion for helping people experience and internalize Scripture through the art of biblical storytelling. He periodically leads workshops for churches, and his website offers numerous resources. We invite you to schedule a workshop with Barbarick or contact any of these members of the ACU community to work with or speak at your church.

Team spotlight: Gabe Fisher
As our first-ever doctoral fellow, Gabe Fisher (’14 M.Div.) will create and share practical material to serve churches, drawing on his research as an ACU Doctor of Ministry student. He will write several Mosaic articles each year and later develop a presentation for a ministry-focused academic conference or scholarly journal. Fisher’s ministry interests include spiritual care near the end of life, pastoral care, faith and vocation, and ministry with those who have cognitive deficits and disabilities. Read his first article.
Carmichael-Walling Lectures, presented by ACU’s Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts, Nov. 14
Equipping for Ministry: Houston Ministers’ Breakfast, Jan. 27
Contemplative Ministers’ Initiative Retreat, Feb. 10-13
Equipping for Ministry: DFW Ministers’ Lunch, Feb. 18
Equipping for Ministry: Austin Ministers’ Lunch, March 24
Equipping for Ministry: San Antonio Ministers’ Breakfast, March 25
Ministers’ Support Network Retreat, April 2-5
Our work in the Siburt Institute is made possible by the generosity of friends like you who support and share our mission to serve church leaders and other Christ-followers.

Give to the Siburt Institute. The Siburt Institute for Church Ministry exists to equip and serve church leaders and other Christ-followers for God’s mission in the world.   For more information, visit siburtinstitute.org or contact our office at siburtinstitute@acu.edu or 325-674-3732.

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