June 20, 2018

Leaders from Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Naples, Florida, report this month on their highly successful intergenerational retreat, during which they completed the entire five-session 1K Bible study on a single Saturday, engaged significantly across generations and cultures, and planned how to move forward with two micro-loans in their community. At Criterion we hope the Emmanuel story and the resources they share will inspire other congregations to use their imagination to adapt 1K Churches to fit their own communities. Later this summer we will check back with Emmanuel to learn more about how the youth and adults who worked together discussing faith and the economy in their retreat are going about making their loans.

The Emmanuel Story

On April 21st of 2018, Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Naples, Florida hosted a full day 1K Micro-lending retreat. Emmanuel Lutheran Church and Emmanuel Community Church are two congregations but one church. One congregation worships in English, the other in Spanish. The 1K Micro-lending retreat was part of Emmanuel’s emphasis on “Making Disciples for the Life of the World,” centering the conversation around the topics of Faith, Vocation and Economics. The goal of this retreat was to bring adults and young people from both congregations together to learn how to make a difference by investing in our community.

The initial plan for the micro-lending ministry was to create two bible-study groups, one for adults and one for young people. These plans quickly evolved into a new vision of bringing both groups together and using a joint day-long retreat to work through the 1K materials. The goal was to keep both groups together until the last hour of the retreat,at which point adults caucused together to make their decisions concerning their loan and the young people did the same.

Twelve adults and thirteen energized youth attended this day-long retreat. The group was diverse in so many ways: in age, gender, work experience, economic status, and ethnic background. Some spoke only English, others mostly Spanish. Their diversity reflects the character of these two unique congregations and added immensely to the richness of the day’s conversation about the nature of work, money and economics.

Starting with breakfast at church, a safe learning environment was established using the 1K modular guide and a variety of delivery methods including technology. The group used iPhones for in-group research, pre-taped presentations by Emmanuel staff based on the 1K material (press here to download these tapes for your own use), small mixed-group discussions and, most effectively, a Shark-Tank video over lunch. Different pedagogical techniques were used to keep energy high and focus strong. Each session lasted only 45 minutes, advancing quickly from topic to topic. Examples of entrepreneurs within the community (e.g. bread-making and quilting) along with Spanish videos with English sub-titles were used to highlight micro-lending possibilities. Participants also collaborated in small, creative break-out sessions throughout the day.

It took a little time to create a comfort level between the various age groups, but by lunch the ice had been broken. Small group discussions were held in ever-changing groups. The diversity in the room was valued and produced amazing insights and different approaches to decision-making. Potential partners beyond the congregation were discussed; one good example was Goodwill Industries, which provides training for micro-businesses and grant opportunities in the area.

The final session involved “Debriefing the Day” and “Making Decisions.” We divided into two groups, one adult group and the other comprised of youth. Each group decided which of the five lending pathways they would choose for our two initial loans. We concluded by electing a subcommittee comprised of youth and adults that will make two investments of $1,000 into our local community, one guided by the decisions by the youth caucus and one by the adults.

The day ended with prayer and a genuine sense of accomplishment. The retreat format was intense. A lot of material and challenging ideas were handled in a short amount of time. Those participating had all grown in our understanding of the 1K Churches initiative and were unanimous in our commitment to become one of these churches. Everyone left at 4PM knowing much more about the topic of “faith and economics” than when we began the day. Our sense of satisfaction also came from bringing a new group together, sharing two meals and lots of fellowship, and making some astounding decisions that will positively impact the lives of fellow community members. Everyone sensed that something important and lasting had happened that day.Story by Lisa LaFevre, James Cooper, and Richard Bliese of Emmanuel Lutheran Church

The people of Emmanuel have shared the following resources for your use:

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