Tips for Hosting a Way of Love-Themed Ministry Fair
Just as the months of August and September signal the beginning of a new school year for students of all ages, these months also mean the beginning of a new ministry year for many Episcopal churches. One activity that helps create interest and connectivity around this new beginning is a ministry fair. A ministry fair is an event that is typically held in conjunction with the launch of a new program year. The event helps to generate awareness, enthusiasm, and involvement among parishioners in parish ministry. It is an annual celebration of the work of the Church, a special event that recognizes the importance of all volunteer efforts. The ministry fair is a wonderful way for parishioners to meet and gather information about the various ministries, committees, organizations, and educational opportunities that are available within the parish community. Each ministry is showcased through the use of a display at a table or booth, and often is organized around a central theme.
Today we are talking to the Rev. Drew Courtright, curate at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Concord, N.H. St. Paul’s has done a wonderful job of embracing and reimagining the Way of Love for their context. Today, Drew is sharing how his parish organized a ministry fair around the Way of Love and created new resources.
The Episcopal Church: We love the idea of using the Way of Love practices to organize a ministry fair. How did you accomplish this?
The Rev. Drew Courtright: We used the steps of the Way of Love to organize and display all of our ministries at our annual ministry fair. To do this, we had large foamboard posters of the Way of Love graphic made—one for each step, with that step highlighted. We hung each poster under a pop-up canopy with the accompanying ministries displayed on tables below. This event was held across the street from our church on the state house lawn in Concord, N.H. Using this location itself was a form of public witness and evangelism.
In brief, here is what we put under each step:
- Turn = Hospitality, Fellowship, New Members;
- Learn = Christian Formation;
- Pray = Pastoral Care (with a real live prayer station!);
- Worship = Liturgy and Worship;
- Bless = Stewardship;
- Go = Outreach and Mission;
- Rest = an actual place to sit, rest, and listen to the live music in the shade.
TEC: The large posters you made are wonderful. Any tips on how other churches could accomplish this same look?
Drew: The foamboards were made by our local printer, so anyone’s local printhouse could be used. This company did the highlighting of the specific steps using in-house graphic designers (which we recommend). While you don't need the foamboards, they were a helpful visual.
TEC: Any drawback to having these boards made or in using them?
Drew: Once we had the foamboards made, we used them for a sermon series on the Way of Love which was great (one step per Sunday, seven Sundays in a row this fall). But since then, we've not really used the boards that much. A challenge is to find more ways to use these specific items to get the most out of them. Also, I would find a way to prop/hang the foamboards on the top of the canopy. We hung them on the back, and they were visible but not from far away.
TEC: What was the inspiration behind organizing your event this way?
Drew: We really ran with the Way of Love as a tool and saw it as a great way to contextualize and locate each of our ministries within a Jesus-centered life. Our rector, the Rev. Kate Atkinson, is also a big fan of bold printed materials, so it was her idea to make the foamboards which were a huge hit!
TEC: What have you found most rewarding or surprising about implementing this resource?
Drew: Most rewarding was helping people connect with this new tool and to better understand the function of our ministries within the Christian life. It was surprising how well all of our ministries lined up with the seven steps.
TEC: If you had to describe St. Paul's using one of the seven practices, which one would you chose and why?
Drew: Go. As a downtown parish, we are known for and pride ourselves on our generous and effective outreach ministries which are very much in need. Learn is a close second, though!
TEC: How would you describe the Way of Love to someone unfamiliar with The Episcopal Church?
Drew: It is a tool for understanding the different parts of Christian life and its simplicity enables one to recognize and take those steps in one's own life.
TEC: What is your hope for the future of the Way of Love at St. Paul’s and in Concord?
Drew: We hope to continue to use it as a parish-wide touchstone and for folks to use it in their daily reflection and practices of living a Jesus-centered life.
TEC: How can we pray for your ministry and for St. Paul’s?
Drew: Pray that folks would use this tool in their own lives and continue to grow in their love and following of Jesus!
Huge thanks to Rev. Drew and the good folks at St. Paul’s in Concord, N.H. for sharing this resource with the wider Church. We believe that we are better together – learning and growing to be more Christ like as we share our gifts and our stories. Do you have a Way of Love story or resource that you would like to share? Email us at [email protected].