In your church, where are the signs of life?
Signs of Life offers a clear-eyed consideration of the challenges facing congregations as well as a celebration of practices that contribute to spiritual vitality in congregations.
These best practice principles—signs of life—emerge from a ministry called RenewalWorks, a concerted effort to make spiritual growth a priority in congregations and to build cultures of discipleship within them.
The book is written free from illusion that there is a quick fix. Nor does it propose a prescriptive focus on programmatic solutions. What you have in this book is an exploration of the catalysts and best practices for spiritual growth-and the hopeful confidence that it can happen. After all, with God all things are possible.
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Jay Sidebotham has served as a priest in the Episcopal Church for more than 30 years. He also enjoys creating artwork, including cartoons, reflecting life in the church. Before ordination, he worked in an animation studio that produced Schoolhouse Rock cartoons and then as an art director in several advertising agencies. Some say he is still in advertising.
Having blessed us all for years with his wit and wisdom, priest and author Jay Sidebotham now offers a dose of hope for the Church, mixed with pragmatic spiritual practices that makes this a must-read for all those who take seriously the challenge to live out Jesus's Way of Love in an increasingly complex reality. Thank you, Jay, for offering a way forward."The Most Rev. Michael B. CurryPresiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and author of Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times
Through stories, interviews and insights from a life-long passion to help people grow spiritually, Jay Sidebotham shares all that he's learned about how to take intentional steps on the journey of faith and help others do the same. RenewalWorks isn't a program; it's a pilgrimage. It isn't one thing to add to an already busy life and full church calendar; it points us in the direction of what matters most of all.The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar BuddeBishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
Christ Church Charlotte has had the privilege of working with Jay over many years. I am thrilled he has put his research and wisdom into a book to share with the church/world. Signs of Life is a deeply insightful guide to leadership and parish vitality. It would be hard to measure the impact his work can have on the spiritual and numerical growth of your congregation. The Rev. Chip EdensRector, Christ Church Charlotte
Devoid of any time-bound and shallow gimmicks, this thin volume is actually an expansive atlas, a collection of maps that tell us both candidly where we are and how in hope to get where we want to go when we decide to be led by God to living together in Christ. This is book will renew Christ’s Body the Church for the sake of the world! The Rt. Rev. A. Robert HirschfeldBishop of New Hampshire
Everyone wants the secret to reversing church decline. There is no shortcut, but in Signs of Life, Jay Sidebotham lays out the clearest path you will find. The RenewalWorks team has spent a decade researching, testing and guiding thousands of congregations, and I am so grateful that Jay has now literally written the book on spiritual vitality and what takes practically to ignite a fire for God in the heart of our churches.The Rev. Canon Stephanie SpellersCanon to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and author of The Church Cracked Open and Radical Welcome
Turns out there are approaches—strategies as well as spiritual gifts—to deepen our relationship with God. Jay Sidebotham’s Signs of Life gives us something to do: actions to strengthen local faith communities and grow faith in Jesus Christ. Signs of Life is written by a pastor for any person, lay or ordained, who cares about congregations. Jay’s decades of experience in parish churches, as well as his vulnerable witness that developing “more programs” is not the same as deepening faith in Jesus Christ, grounds this work and makes it both practical and beautiful. If you don’t yet know Jay Sidebotham I’m pretty sure that after you read this book you’ll want to have coffee with him to learn more. This book affirms the truth that attending to tasks that hold up basic, common-sense, and faith-filled practices WILL strengthen a local church. The warmth of leaders (clergy and lay), getting people moving, embedding scripture in everything, empowering others, and caring for the entire local community are honest-to-goodness keys to the kingdom. Jay Sidebotham inspires me every Sunday. When I visit congregations in Maine, two common questions are, “how can we grow?” and “what can we do?” My response always includes aspects of what he writes here! A decade ago I began working alongside Jay. At the time RenewalWorks was just starting. I was the rector of a suburban Boston parish who wanted to go deep with their faith. Jay’s wisdom gave us capacity for courage and enthusiasm, and within a few months, lay leaders were saying, “I can see now—-God is helping us put God at the center of it all.” Signs of Life reflects Jay’s experience in hundreds of congregations. If you care about strengthening congregations, and growing faith in God, use this book as a tool. It will help you move mountains. The Rt. Rev. Thomas James BrownBishop of Maine
For nearly a decade now, Jay Sidebotham has helped Episcopal parishes rediscover their first loves and grow in spiritual vitality. In Signs of Life, he distills the wisdom gained from that work into an accessible and inspiring single volume that should be required reading for every Vestry, search committee, priest, and Episcopal seminarian. His relentless hope for the future of God’s church has inspired me in my own ministry, and the work of RenewalWorks has been transformative in the life of every parish I have served. I know it will continue to bear much fruit. The Rev. Ryan FleenorRector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Darien, CT
Signs of Life is a must-read for anyone in church leadership within The Episcopal Church. Whether you are clergy, a professional lay minister, a vestry member, or serve as an usher one Sunday a month, this book will challenge and strengthen you and your ministry for the better. Jerusalem GreerManager for Evangelism and Discipleship, The Episcopal Church
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