Thriving Essentials Available for Churches
A new course on effective church leadership is now available for congregational training events.
Thriving Essentials is a four-session course covering mission, discipleship, discernment, and leadership. Designed for church leaders including elders, deacons, church staff, and volunteer ministry leaders, the course became available to individuals in January 2022 after a six-month pilot phase.
As of March 2022, the course is now also available to congregations so that leaders of a specific church can go through the course together. Tim Postuma, part of the CRCNA Thrive team, noted, “It's a way churches can get all their volunteer ministry leaders and staff on the same page about key concepts of church ministry.”
A recent participant at a custom church event said that putting the four key topics together was helpful for their congregation, and noted, “Those who serve in various capacities in a local congregation will be best equipped to further the purpose of the congregation when they align on these four areas.”
The course takes four hours to complete, and it can be done in one event, two two-hour sessions, or four one-hour sessions. Custom church events can take place in person, such as at a Saturday retreat, or online for two or four evenings.
Multi-church events that draw together church leadership from a number of congregations in a geographic area are another option. For example, a multi-church event might include plenary sessions as well as congregation-specific breakout discussions.
Individual registration continues as well, with new online learning groups starting each month. The next groups are set to begin May 3 and May 5.
“The online courses held every month provide a great way for churches to get familiar with the course. They can put a couple of people through the course first, to check it out and know what they're signing up for,” said Rev. Elaine May, the Thriving Essentials content developer. “In fact, we strongly recommend that churches have a couple of people try out the course before requesting their own church event.”
Three churches have done custom events for their leaders so far. The churches are on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, and they include both established and emerging congregations. Feedback has been very positive, suggesting that the training is effective in a variety of church styles and locations. Over 95 percent of respondents said they would recommend the course to others.
One participant said, “It was an excellent session. Our church is starting a leadership development initiative, which includes one year of mentorship. Thriving Essentials will become the standard prerequisite for leadership.” Another participant noted appreciating that the course is rooted in biblical texts and examples.
Several participants have found the facilitated discussions helpful. One church leader commented, “The breakout sessions . . . put me in touch with those who were ‘in the trenches.’ I got the sense that we all had our own set of troubles, and it was nice to share and gain perspective outside my own context.”
Congregations or individuals interested in joining a Thriving Essentials course can find information at crcna.org/thrive. Thanks to a generous grant, the course is offered free of cost. Thrive staff have provided a letter to church councils introducing the course and will work with each congregation to schedule their custom event.