Jumpstart your journey
Resources for Invididuals
Following Christ is a life-long journey, with many twists and turns, successes and failures. Our Spiritual Weekend reunion groups ask themselves, "Where did you see Christ and embrace him this week? Where did you turn away?" We gather strength from hearing each other's stories and learning from the community. Here are some resources highly recommended by our community of Christians that we know can help you "on the way." Books, websites, apps, spiritual practices, and more. Explore
Favorite Book List from our Community
- Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holliday
- Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side by Robert A. Johnson
- Facing your Giants: God Still Does the Impossible by Max Lucado
- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
- Jesus Speaks by Leonard Sweet
- Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
- The Epic of Eden by Sandra L Richter
- Uncommon Gratitude by Joan Chittister
- Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
- Jesus the King by Tim Keller
- Prodigal God by Tim Keller
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
- Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle
- In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
- Life is a Miracle by Wendell Berry
- Kingdom, Grace, and Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables by Robert Capon
Our Favorite Apps & Websites for Spiritual Living
- Mission St. Clare (Guided Morning & Evening Prayer/Daily Office with audio)
- Centering Prayer by Contemplative Outreach Ltd.
- First 5 by Proverbs 31 Ministries
- Bible Gateway by HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Translations, Offline mode, bible audio, search, notes, highlights, and commentaries)
- myrosarybeads.com/anglicanrosary (step by step for praying the rosary)
- cac.org/category/daily-meditations (Richard Rohr's Meditations by email)
The Great Bible Challenge
Our very first step in the SOULWorks journey was into the Word of God. Coming face to face with scripture is key to any major spiritual renewal, so the researchers told us, and boy were they right! A year long drive known as The Bible Challenge brought Episcopalians back to scripture in a daily setting, which laid new foundations for growth we continue to build upon. We now understand that deep spiritual development is impossible for a Christian without immersion in the Bible. Jumpstart your own bible reading with daily reading guides and schedules, available below.
- These guides come from several sources, and there are many variants available on the web.
- Printing suggestions:
- One-Year Challenge and Psalm & Proverbs Guides are formatted for letter size (8.5x11) double sided printing and should be folded in half long ways, forming a tall booklet. Saddle-stitch stapling is optional for durability.
- Family Challenge Guide is formatted for Ledger paper (11x17) double sided printing.
Resources for Church Leaders
Beginning a spiritual journey isn’t easy. That’s why RenewalWorks worked with 3,000 Episcopalians to identify what people wanted and needed to spur their spiritual growth. It was from this mission that SOULWorks was adapted and born. Ready to kickstart your journey? We invite you to use the following resources to get you on the way.
Foundations of SOULWorks
The Rev. Jay Sidebotham, "Lessons from Unlikely Sources: What a Market Researcher and a Megachurch are Teaching a Few Episcopalians about Growing the Church." The Anglican Theological Review Summer 2012 (Volume 94, No. 3).
- This whole thing began when Fr. John Sewell read an article in Anglican Theological Review by an Episcopal parish priest in Lake Forest, Illinois. The Rev. Jay Sidebotham had tapped into a movement at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois that was changing lives and churches across the country by reconnecting people with the Bible and personal spiritual practices. Follow the link above to read the inspiration for this whole process.
The Rev. Jay Sidebotham, et al., "Footsteps." 2014. Forward Movement.
- This short workbook details the "reasoning and research behind RenewalWorks." It adds depth and context to the large data pool collected through the survey process with 500,000 participants nationwide. It asks, "What is the meaning of spiritual growth" and offers "important insight into how congregations and individuals might take the first steps toward a richer, deeper faith."
Celtic Christianity: Influence and Inspiration
Since 2009, the Rector of Saint John's, The Rev. John W. Sewell, had been pondering the lives of the Celtic saints and the stark differences between a Celtic model of evangelism and the Roman model that is foundational for so much of the Western church. More recently, his research has led to an intentional reorientation towards a smaller, more mobile, more playful church driven significantly by the work of George G. Hunter III, John Finney, Albert C. Krass, and others.
The Roman model presents the choice first to believe and affirm, then to join. The Celtic model begins with fellowship and ministry, which leads to an invitation to commitment. As John Finney writes, "Christians should be more prepared to explain the spiritual life they have already begun to enjoy than to seek to persuade others of doctrinal truth" (Recovering the Past, 43). He later writes, "The Celts looked after people and the Romans looked after an area."
Key Elements of Celtic Christianity:
- More movement than institution
- More lay people than clergy in ministry
- More imaginative and less cerebral
- Emphasizing God's immanence more than transcendance
- Closer to nature and its creatures
- Worship and ministry directed outwards
- Adapted to surroundings, rather than changing them
How Do 1000 yr old Celts help a 21st Century Church?
Much of the groundwork that has made our investment in SOULWorks possible has arisen out of these ideals. Our church clergy and staff shifted the focus away from establishing more "programs" and straining to preserve things "the way they've always been." The new standards for our work are, "How do we become more movement than institution?" "How do we feature more lay people in ministry than clergy?" In many ways, this has upended our thinking and pushed us into entirely new ministries and experiences. What long-term mindsets are driving your church's ministries and relationships?
- George G. Hunter III. The Celtic Way of Evangelism, Tenth Anniversary Edition: How Christianity Can Reach the West . . . Again. 2010. Abingdon Press.
- John Finney. Recovering the Past: Celtic and Roman Mission. 2011. Darton Longman & Todd.
- Alfred C. Krass. Evangelizing Neopagan North America. 2001. Wipf & Stock Publishers.
- Douglas Brown. "From Minster to Ministry." September 28, 2002. http://www.shepsewell.wordpress.com
SOULWorks Survey Results
After the first parish survey was completed in 2013, the "RenewalWorks Task Force," comprised of nearly two dozen parishioners, met for several months. They analyzed the data, explored the needs and desires of our community, and presented their recommendations to the Rector and the Vestry.
- We completed the survey for the second time in 2015, with a slightly smaller, but still substantial response rate from the parish. Another task force was recruited with diversity of experience and demographics in mind, including some who served on the first task force in 2013. As the first Episcopalian church to take the survey twice, our team blazed some new ground to find successes, gaps, and new areas for growth based on the survey response changes. Six new initiatives were designed and implementation teams were organized to set them in motion.
- In Fall 2015, the survey workshop team presented these six new initiatives to the congregation and laid out a plan for making them a reality. As they get off the ground, they'll be added to the INITIATIVES section on this site. Click the link above to watch their presentation and see what they designed for this holy gathering of Christians.
Letters to the Parish
RenewalWorks Survey & Task Force, 2013
The Rev. John W. Sewell, "Letter to the Parish March 2013"
- Fr. John thanks those who took the Parish Survey and lays out the role of the task force in the coming months.
The Rev. John W. Sewell, "Letter to the Parish August 2013"
- Fr. John explains the findings of the RenewalWorks task force to the parish, particularly the call to immerse ourselves in Scripture. He also announces The Great Bible Challenge for the first time.
SOULWorks: Fall 2014
The Rev. John W. Sewell, "All Christians are Leaders"
- Fr. John introduces the first SOULWorks Spiritual Weekend in a letter to the Parish of Saint John's. July '14
The Rev. John W. Sewell, "Beloved in Christ"
- Fr. John outlines the three facets of SOULWorks for 2014-15 that will meet the recommendations of the RenewalWorks Task Force. August '14
Unless otherwise noted, all publications listed below are property of Saint John's Episcopal Church and/or the clergy listed as author(s). These may not be replicated or re-used without explicit permission from Saint John's Episcopal Church. If your church is interested in building on the work we have done here, please contact the Church Office at (901) 323-8597 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.