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February 26, 2021

More than 75 percent of those registered for tonight’s outreach at this one church are first-time guests.

With vaccination rates climbing and viral caseloads falling, Communio-supported churches across the country are surging with their new relationship ministries both in the Mile High City and around the country.

Here is brief snapshot of some encouraging outreach happening through churches participating in one of Communio’s largest citywide initiatives: our Denver City Platform. Each of the churches  are part of a growing ecumenical network of 20 churches that will balloon to 30 churches across the metro area by this summer.  A lot is happening – right now, Communio’s consulting team is hands on in helping these churches make a major pivot to evangelize and make disciples through marriage and relationship ministry by implementing our Full-Circle Relationship Ministry™ model.

And before jumping back to the exciting news from that church mentioned at the onset,  Communio just wrapped up another round of strategic planning meetings with Calvary Church, a large reformed, evangelical church in Englewood, and two large Catholic parishes – Our Lady of Lourdes and Christ the King – helping them set goals and chart a course for their new relationship ministries for 2021 and into 2022. Elevation ChurchHorizon Christian Fellowship, and Holy Ghost Catholic Church are on deck for this weekend.  More on that in moment.

  • But first, later tonight, Sanctuary Christian Fellowship, an evangelical church of several hundred families in Cherry Hills Village, will host its second outreach event, part of launching their Data-Informed, Full-Circle Relationship Ministry™ – Fun and Fondue – to a sold-out crowd of singles, couples, and families. For the last six weeks, Communio’s digital team has supported Sanctuary with digital outreach campaigns and registration pages branded for the church all focused on promoting the event to these target audiences in the community around their campus.

Sanctuary’s director of missions and outreach, Sean Ray, tells us that every one of the paid registrations for the in-person portion of the event came in through the digital campaign Communio designed and ran – 75 percent of them are not members of the church.

The response has been so great that their team needed to open a “Zoom overflow” event so as not to violate local limits on in-person gatherings.

Sean and the entire team at Sanctuary are fired up:

“One of our goals with Communio is to engage the singles demographic relationally, both in and outside of our church,” said Sean, “so we were able to promote the event as a fun evening that couples and/or friends could do together. We are very excited for this event because it is a blend of singles and couples, we reached full capacity a week before the event, and the fact that 75 percent of the participants have never been to Sanctuary before is awesome! Our partnership with Communio has been crucial in making our relationship ministry available to the community.

Modeled off the popular “Paint-and-Sip” concept, Sanctuary’s Fun and Fondue will offer a guided painting class, food and drink, and childcare for couples with kids.

Meanwhile, about 30 minutes due north of Sanctuary, another Communio-supported church, Annunciation Catholic Church, hosted its first in-person “Bilingual Trivia Night” for couples and families. Their staff tell us roughly half of those in attendance were non-English speakers – accomplishing a big strategic goal for their team as they work to increase their engagement with the Hispanic community in their neighborhood.

Above: Bilingual Trivia Night outreach at Annunciation.

But, what really excited Fr. Charles Polifka, pastor at Annunciation, was the significant boost in participation he saw from young people – both from inside and outside the parish A major part of Communio’s training and strategic planning meetings with a church is to help inspire new engagement and new volunteers around the idea of transforming their church:

“The biggest success,” said Fr. Charles, “was to see a completely new team of workers. Christian, Sloan, Maria, Rachel, Antonio…a completely new team of workers who set up and cleaned up. It was a marvel to my eyes. Teresa and Mari were there from the “old guard,” but they just participated. Seeing those young people work to pull this off was to me the greatest success of the evening. This evening renewed my hope. And now on to bigger and greater things…”

Now, Communio is helping both Annunciation and Sanctuary move these outreach participants into ongoing engagement experiences – the second rung of Communio’s Ministry Engagement Ladder™ – next month. Annunciation will host a couples’ movie night in March and tamale making class in April, while Sanctuary is planning a “Parent’s Night Out” with childcare provided back at the church.

At this stage of the ladder, the ratio of popcorn (fun) to spinach (content) shifts from roughly 90-10 to 70-30, meaning the event incorporates more substantive relationship enrichment such as a couple’s “witness talk” and light communications skills development for participants. It’s all a tee up for the church to invite couples to join a Growth Journey – the third and final rung of Communio’s engagement framework – where skills-based relationship education is delivered, most commonly through small groups.

Now, while Sanctuary and Annunciation are deep into executing their Ministry Engagement Ladders™, Communio has a wave of new churches starting theirs.

So, let’s go back to those strategic planning sessions mentioned earlier:

Last weekend, Communio wrapped up sessions with Calvary Church, a Southern Baptist church of just under 1,000 weekly attendees, and two large Catholic parishes in the heart of Denver – Our Lady of Lourdes and Christ the King. These parishes have roughly 4,700 and 2,500 members respectively.

Above: Planning meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes with Fr. Brian Larkin.

At Calvary, Family Pastor Tim Nielson and his team have jumped in and selected the date for their first big outreach event – a “Burrito Blitz and Easter Egg Hunt” – on April 3. And just this morning, the church launched its first digital outreach campaign with support from Communio’s digital team – you can view their “digital date night” kit we’re helping Calvary push out to couples within a 5-mile radius of their campus by clicking here.

During these strategic planning meetings, Communio and the church leadership review the first-party survey and modelled data of the churches’ memberships and surrounding communities, helping their teams uncover marital and relationship needs and opportunities inside and around their church. Informed by that data, Communio then helped their teams set clear and measurable 24-month ministry goals (outcomes) and activities (outputs) designed to help the church reach those outcomes. These activities take the “form” or shape of Communio’s Ministry Engagement Ladder™.

For Calvary, the team left their meeting with some ambitious targets for its new relationship ministry:

  1. 50 new people become members or are baptized.
  2. Normalize relationship health in the culture of the church by seeing 300 people go through 4+ hours of skills-based relationship education.
  3. 300 people not currently connected to Calvary participate in a minimum of two activities with the church.

Over at Our Lady of Lourdes, we learned that in recent years this parish provided a good mix of resources and growth opportunities that have attracted couples and singles. The fruit of that work was clearly evident in the survey data. Survey data of their singles population showed that more than 90 percent of respondents are under the age of 40 and never married.  This is the highest number of young, never-married singles Communio has ever found in any church – Catholic or Protestant.

But, the Lourdes’ team is ready to ramp things to the next level and ended up targeting some ambitious goals at the meeting:

  1. Normalize marriage ministry for 100 couples
  2. Increase the engagement of 50 young families into the sacramental life of the parish.
  3. Engage 40 newlywed couples into the life of the parish.

Rolling into this weekend, Communio will host three more planning meetings: Elevation Church and Horizon Christian Fellowship – two medium sized evangelical churches – and Holy Ghost Catholic Church, a large parish in downtown Denver of over 3,550 members. They too will set goals and activity targets for their new relationship ministries.

While our Denver staff – Trevor Lee and his Catholic counterpart Jo Holt – are off and running, Communio’s work in other communities is taking off as well.  St. Paul tells us that it is neither the one who plants nor the one who waters that matters – only God provides the growth (1 Cor 3:7). Pray that our Lord continues to provide the growth and flourishing for these churches.  So much lies ahead.

For more information or to explore bringing Communio’s model to your city or church, call us at (703) 347-7800 or email us at platform@communio.org. Or visit our website – www.communio.org – for more background on our work.

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