Center Link – December 2016 Issue




As a local church leadership team turns the corner into a new year, what are key habits that they will want to learn to practice?

There are several, and they begin with being directed by and committed to a shared vision and goals. Read more 



A Tale of Two Economies

Consider the power of cultivating a culture of gratitude and generosity! We are comparing and contrasting two different “economies” broadly understood. For many of us, simply hearing the phrase “God’s economy” might strike us as odd. When we hear the word “economy,” we think of such things as money, the Federal Reserve, or GDP. That’s simply the way the word economy is typically used in our day.The phrase “God’s economy,” however, harkens back to a broader meaning of economy. Read more from the presentation at 2016 missional church convocation…..

WHAT’S ON YOUR (Regional Leader’s) PLATE?


Center Link is about relationship.

Our intent is to provide what matters most to you, especially with regard to supporting congregational renewal.

Here is a brief survey in which you can share your suggestions for content and your feedback.  TAKE THE ONE-MINUTE SURVEY HERE…..


Changing the culture and dynamic in our Presbytery meetings

“When we introduced small group discussions based around Scripture that welcomed peer sharing and mentoring – it was the best thing we brought into our Presbytery meetings in 10 years!”

This is what the Program Strategy Committee of the Presbytery of Northern Waters said in their review of a year-long partnership with the Center for Parish Development.

Engaging as a regional body with a consulting organization like the Center created an immediate expectation that this was going to be about telling our churches how to solve their problems.  What church wants that?!  And what church council or Session believes it has the time – or the energy – to engage in a renewal process with all of its ongoing responsibilities of maintaining the church?

Five congregations accessed the Center’s online learning modules, some of which they had experienced first-hand in a Presbytery meeting. It was a hope that many more would have wanted to access what was available through the partnership – Bible study formation processes, stewardship cultivation, vision discernment, and engaging the wider local community among many other online learning modules with video and downloads accompanied with personal coaching support. Grants were offered to make these resources virtually free to congregations. That didn’t happen. But, remarkably, through our collaboration with the Center throughout 2016 a sense of community was fostered in the Presbytery – sharing life and ministry together – like hadn’t been seen in long time.

The Presbytery’s Program Strategy Committee in partnership with the Center designed opportunities in 4 consecutive Presbytery meetings for commissioners to interact with and learn from each other.  “The most powerful renewal experience was our own resourcefulness with and for one another as churches, and as lay and clergy leaders!

The congregations in Northern Waters are spread across northwestern Wisconsin and north-east and -central Minnesota.  Besides this, there is no executive or program staff person to resource the churches. Going to a Presbytery meeting is always a long drive for a lot of people.  Especially here, an experiment was needed.  No, really, it was about taking faith seriously!  “We ARE the body of Christ.”  The Presbytery isn’t what a paid staff person or consultant does “for us” and “to us” but how we can in fresh, creative and fruitful ways really be the church when we gather in each other’s presence in worship, learning and discerning, and in conversation.

The Center’s mission is accomplished in partnership with those we seek to serve.  Let us join you in discovering how churches can learn to discern and participate in God’s mission more faithfully and effectively, and in providing counsel and resources to facilitate that transformation.