Skip to main content

Thriving Practices Cohorts Begin

August 31, 2022

Learning together in small groups has been found to be one of the most effective and encouraging ways for church leaders to develop a particular area of congregational ministry. Participating churches gain access to expertise and support along the way. They also experience the joy of linking arms with other congregations pursuing a similar calling.

Congregations with a desire to grow in ministry and mission now have access to a new, grant-funded initiative called Thriving Practices Cohorts.

“The Thriving Practices cohorts are a terrific opportunity to breathe new life and new resources into a church’s calling,” said Tim Postuma, director of the Thrive program. “It’s like a small group, but for churches.”

Each learning cohort gathers leaders from multiple congregations who are interested in pursuing a particular ministry topic. Some cohorts will meet in person if regional distances are not a challenge. But most will meet virtually via Zoom once a month. Cohorts usually require a one-year commitment.

“There’s tremendous value in bringing churches together to learn from each other as they walk a similar path,” said Larry Doornbos, an advisor to the Thrive project. “Each congregation will participate in the cohorts through a small team consisting of both pastoral and lay leaders.”

Each church that joins a Thriving Practices cohort gains access to regular gatherings led by trained facilitators, one-on-one coach support, and funding grants. A $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. covers almost all of the expenses for a congregation to participate in a cohort. This generous grant also helped to establish the free Thriving Essentials training course for church leaders. Participation in the course is recommended prior to stepping into a Thriving Practices cohort.

Here are descriptions of two of the cohorts that will be starting in fall 2022:

  • Sexuality and Gender: Clarity and Care Cohort
    This learning cohort will equip you and your church to grow in clarity regarding teaching, pastoral care, and discipleship for LGBTQ+ people. We’ll have open conversations on how to live into our dual commitments of holding to the historic view of marriage and seeking full inclusion of LGBTQ+ members.
  • Hokmah Cohort
    Hokmah is the Hebrew word for “wisdom.” The Hokmah Cohort will engage ideas from Susan Beaumont’s book How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going: Leading in a Liminal Season. Participants will discern a wise path to being vibrant communities of Jesus in the world by engaging in a sabbatical mindset that sets time aside time to discern. We will focus on the four main aspects of the Old Testament sabbatical year – deepening trust in God, encouraging fresh starts for the least and the last, caring for Creation, and reading through Scripture.

Other cohorts this fall plan to explore the following:

•      listening circles and becoming a restorative congregation
•      rediscovering God’s mission through Go Local
•      implementing Hearts Exchanged as a church
•      building faith by becoming a storytelling congregation
•      using the Church Renewal Lab process to discern a path forward

Some cohorts are brand new, and others build on work that CRCNA ministries have already been doing. All cohort details and registration information are available at the Thriving Practices website. Groups will begin in September.