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I am a member of the St. Matthews, Florence congregation, which is part of the six-point Parish of the Transfiguration in Kent Deanery. Let me tell you what it is like to have a Congregational Coach right in our congregation!

The biggest thing? We talk to each other about our faith.

I know! We are Anglicans, just like you, and yet, there we are talking to each other about what we believe, and how we came to that belief, and what is important, and what needs to be done, and how we can make it happen.

And we have been doing it for a few years now.

Because, thanks to our coach, we are aware of the free and amazing resources available to us, and because, again thanks to our coach, we are unafraid not only to look at them but to commit to using them to the fullest, our congregational life has changed.

A story: One day, after we had downloaded, and were meeting for, a Lenten Bible Study, one of the diocesan resources, we were prompted to discuss our church’s mission and ministry. It led to us working with our coach to come up with a new way “to respond to human need by loving service” right in our small community. That initiative has carried on, and has brought hundreds of people to our hall to help those in our village who have been struck by anything from a bump in the road of life to a great tragedy.

Another story: Because, thanks to our coach, we knew about Renew, we used its tools and inspiration to raise the equivalent of a year’s budget, over those five years, to restore our stained-glass windows and cemetery with no negative effect on our other givings or outreach.

In fact, the effect has been positive. In the last two years we have covered our operational expenses through plate offerings. We do not make pies, serve sandwiches, put on dinners, or run events for anything other than outreach.

We have been told we are unique in this.

Without tuition or material costs – all absolutely free – these tools we would not have known about without a congregational coach make us better and make our community better; they help us to really and truly help.

Oh, and, yes, we are talking to each other. You want to hear more about that.

We are a small congregation in a village. We know each other very well, we think.

We stand beside each other each week reciting the Creed.

Who would have guessed we would be so reluctant to discuss our faith?

That’s right. You would have guessed.

It’s hard!

But we’re doing it.

Through “I Intend”, with our coach, we discussed what we do and what we will do.

Through the “Spirit of Invitation”, with our coach, we are, right now, discussing what brings us to church and what keeps us there.

It’s real.

We are not done.

We have a great deal to do.

We just designed some new brochures and revamped our website, for instance, but it is not because the unchurched of our village are clamouring for our service times and phone numbers. We have LOTS of empty seats for visitors. Believe me.

But we know what we love about our church and each other, we have an idea of how to present that to others, and we have the encouragement, if maybe not yet the courage, to do our job and tell the world.

We’ll get there.

Lawrene Denkers, St. Matthews, Florence in the Parish of the Transfiguration.