Welcome to the Dawnings initiative!  Dawnings is the new congregational initiative for helping your church take “next steps” in missional ministries.  Dawnings is not another program.  Dawnings is not a “one size fits all, quick fix” approach for congregations.

Dawnings is an individualized ministry approach for your unique congregation and ministry setting based on prayer, spiritual conversations, and discernment.  Dawnings is designed for grasping a clearer vision for your congregation.  Dawnings is intentional about providing deeper spiritual experiences for growing disciples.  Dawning will provide a framework for designing more meaningful mission/ministry engagement in your church, community, and the world.

The following Five Tips will help you commit to the Dawnings initiative and implement this process with faithfulness.

ONE – Choose a Committed Leadership Team and Pray

The congregation is becoming what the leadership of the church already is.  Choosing a team of committed leaders is the crucial first step in this process.  As your team begins to form, spend time meeting together for prayer each week.  Share your hopes and dreams.  Share the challenges that are before you as a church.  Share about who else needs to be included in the process.  And PRAY!

Praying together is a definite need.  Your team will grow closer and God’s vision will begin to get clearer.  Commit to pray daily for the process.  Commit to pray individually for the process.  Commit to gather weekly for sharing and praying together.

TWO – Participate in a Dawnings Retreat

As your leadership team begins to form, participate in a Dawnings retreat.  Bring your team to regional retreat or host one of your own.  Pull away for two days of praying, thinking, and hearing the voice of God.  During the retreat you will build a framework for implementing Dawnings in your church.  During the retreat, you will participate in spiritual experiences that you can lead in your church as well.  During the retreat, you’ll interact with other churches that are experiencing this same journey in their community.  You will come away with a definite direction for what needs to be done in your particular context at this particular time!

THREE – Develop a Personalized Plan

Dawnings is designed by you and your team for your congregation and particular ministry setting.  Dawnings gives you a framework for design around three areas: Vision, Formation, and Engagement.  However, you and the leadership team decide how best to lead the church in these.  Over a ten week study, your Dawnings leadership team will meet to pray and design an approach for prayer, study, and implementation.

Through a series of questions designed to help guide your conversations, the leadership team will begin to formulate a year-long “curriculum” that will respond to the prayer, “Lord, what would you have our church to be and to do?”  God will guide you in discernment.  Your conversations will help you clarify the vision for your church for the next twelve to eighteen months.  Each participating congregation will also have a personal coach to work with the leadership team to keep asking clarifying questions.  You will not be in this journey alone!

As the plan emerges, you then communicate to the congregation.  Remember, this is YOUR plan for YOUR congregation and community.  God is guiding you, your coach is helping you clarify and form and engage!

FOUR – Implement in the Church, in the Community, in the World

This is your specific plan of ministry and study for the next twelve to eighteen months.  This is not a static plan but a living, dynamic plan.  As you continue to clarify God’s plan, you continue to learn.  As you deepen your understanding of discipleship, you continue to learn.  As you more intentionally engage in missions and ministry, you continue to learn.  God is continuing to guide; your understanding will continue to deepen and broaden.

The ministry program of the church becomes much more intentional.  Dawnings gives you insights into what you need to be doing as well as what you may need to STOP doing.  Dawnings lets you plan a year’s worth of ministry with intentionality and purpose.  Along the way, the original plan may shift a bit.  Embrace the shifts and continue to let God guide you both as a leadership team and as a congregation.  Engage in study, prayer, missions, and ministries inside the congregation, outside in your community, and around the world.

FIVE – Get ready for the next dreams.

Dawnings is not a “one size fits all, quick fix, one time” program.  Dawnings is a continuing, dynamic, and intentional interaction with God.  Your congregation continues to pray the prayer, “Lord, what would you have us to be and to do?”  The answers to this prayer are not satisfied in a one-time prayer.  We have to continually re-dream the dream; we have to continually pray and be obedient.

So, as the process is unfolding, about month nine, a new leadership team emerges, a new ten week journey of prayer and discernment begins, and a new vision for the coming months unfolds.  (Have I mentioned this is a dynamic process?)

For too long, we’ve been content to let the Church Calendar (or the Hallmark Calendar) determine the work of our church.  We’ve been locked in to traditions that have lost their meaning, programs that have lost their energy, and missions that have lost their purpose.  We have let the church shape a mission rather than letting God’s mission share our churches.  Dawnings is the next step in shaping a congregation’s missional journey.  Join us!!

by Bo Prosser