The Vibrant Church Conference is for lay leaders of the Southern Ohio Synod (though rostered ministers are welcome as well!). We try to offer a diversity of topics to meet a variety of needs and match an abundance of passions!

We currently offer a monthly online workshop. When you register, you will receive a pre-video early in the week before the scheduled workshop, so that when you join the workshop you will already have some background so you can join in the conversation. We value collaborative learning, so we encourage enSpirited conversation! These workshops are recorded, so that all these resources can be shared with the rest of the Synod afterwards.

Click on the workshop tab below to register for one or all of the upcoming SOS Vibrant Church Conference events.

We’d love to hear your ideas for future workshops!

Email our Director for Evangelical Mission, Pastor Katie Kerrigan with suggestions or questions at

  • January 16: DIY VBS
    For those who missed the DIY VBS class, here is the Zoom recording for you to view:

    Please watch the video below and review the PDF materials prior to Saturday’s class. Pr. Hille will use these materials as the basis for his discussion.

    DIY VBS To Go
    Jesus Feeds Our Soul VBS Song Full Score
    Jesus Walks Beside Us VBS Full Score
    Lead Sheet
    Set My People Free VBS Full Score

    Tired of spending lots of money to buy Vacation Bible School curriculums that are too generic to speak to the specifics of your congregation and context?

    Done purchasing crafts, knick knacks, and VBS favors in bulk numbers only to have them gather dust in closets and storage for years after?

    Ready to give up on “big box” VBS programs that are either too big or too small for your community?

    Pastor Hille was, so in 2012 he sat down and began writing his own Vacation Bible School programs tailored to his congregation. Since then he has written six VBS curriculums, as well as consulted congregations and international ministries in developing curriculums for their contexts.

    In “D.I.Y.: V.B.S.” Pastor Hille will outline how to develop an entire week long Vacation Bible School program in house. By picking themes that speak to your ministry, and developing Bible Studies, games, crafts, and snacks around them, Pastor Hille’s home grown approach to VBS is organic and context reflective, drawing on talents, skills and passions of congregations to create a memorial and fun experience for kids of all ages.

    Topics covered will include:

    • Looking for inspiration & themes.
    • The importance of theme consistency across the VBS.
    • Surveying and utilizing resources in you context (both people & things).
    • What VBS might look like during this socially distant time.


    This course is lead by the Rev. Daniel W. Hille, Pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Columbus, OH.

  • February 13 : Building a Budget

    Considering how much the budget influences congregational life and ministry, it deserves serious and intentional attention each year – and not just a simple updating of last year’s version. This workshop is offered for congregational council members, treasurers, stewardship committees, and rostered ministers, and it is offered in February because now is the time to be thinking about how to present next year’s budget!

    Pastor Peter Rudowski offers expert guidance on developing a budget that reflects your congregation’s values and supports its mission and then introduces the most effective strategies for presenting the budget to your congregation in a way that encourages member engagement, participation, and support. Despite what you might assume from Pastor Rudowski’s years of experience, he is not talking about your grandparents’ congregational budget!

    Pastor Peter Rudowski is a “retired” pastor with more than 30 years of experience in parish ministry who continues to serve the church as a consultant and educator in a variety of areas, including parish administration, leadership, stewardship, congregational planning and development, and – most recently – excellent online Bible studies.

    Below is the recording of the Building a Budget workshop from February 13, 2021.

    Watch Pr. Pete Rudowski’s into video prior to the session on Feb 16.

    These materials will be used during the Budget class:

    For the Health of It: The Joy, Art, and Science of Financial Stewardship

    Building A Budget Powerpoint

  • Apr 10 : Advocacy in our Congregations
    Advocacy in our Congregations: Can we end hunger in our communities once and for all?

    Yes, we can, but it will require us to be advocates as well as servants in our communities. During our time, we will discuss what advocacy means for us as people of faith. Learn to be effective advocates in our congregations and communities alongside those who hunger and thirst.

    Training led by Deacon Nick Bates, J.D.

    A graduate of Capital Law School and Trinity Lutheran Seminary (2012), Nick Bates has nearly two decades worth of non-profit advocacy experience on issues related to homeless children and youth, state budget and tax policy, hunger, voting rights, and other anti-poverty efforts. He serves as the director of the Hunger Network in Ohio, an ecumenical ministry, that works to end hunger by addressing the root causes of poverty through public policy advocacy. HNO is Ohio’s state advocacy ministry for the ELCA.


    The workshop video can be found here:

  • June 19 : A Story Worth Telling
    YOU Have a Story Worth Telling

    We will explore how to discover and tell our unique faith story of how God has been present in our lives. We will explore our personal stories in relationship to God’s story as captured in the pages of scripture.

    Harold “Jake’ Jacobson is an ordained Lutheran (ELCA) pastor who has served for the past 38 years at Grace Lutheran Church in Clarion, PA. For the past 13 years he has also served as Assistant to the Bishop of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod and as Director of Evangelical Mission for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is a practicing certified Spiritual Director. He is also a former campus pastor and hospice chaplain.

    Pastor Jacobson holds degrees from Jamestown Community College (Chemistry), Gettysburg College (Religion/Biblical Studies) and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and a certification in Spiritual Direction from College of the Holy Cross.

    He is the author of Front Porchin’, a guide to faith sharing in the Appalachian Context, Building Missional Tables, a guide to creating congregational mission strategies, and two books: Holy Talk: An Introduction to Scripture for the Occasionally Biblically Embarrassed (2018 Lulu Press), and Rockin’ the Front Porch, (2020 Lulu Press), a guide to faith sharing in today’s new normal.


    Intro video:

    Recording of Zoom session:

  • August 14: Community Gardening

    Vibrant Church Conference- Community Gardening

    Vibrant Church Conference workshop on Community Gardening: “Hands-on Creation Cultivation as Evangelism.” Led by Rev. Michael D. Oakley, this workshop will introduce you to how your outdoor space “can be leveraged into an outreach and evangelism pathway that will connect you to your neighbors, community, the hungry and more.”
    If you’ve been wondering how you can connect with your neighbors and witness to the abundance of God’s creation and provision, you won’t want to miss this!
    August 14, 10am to 12 noon, online!
    Vibrant Church Conference Community Garden Pre-video:
    Video of the workshop:
  • September 18: Creation Care and Community

    Participating in God’s creative and sustaining work-

    Your congregation can experience first-hand the awesome power of God’s ongoing creative force while healing the earth and engaging the community. Sound exciting? It is! September 18, 10am to 12 noon, online!

    During this interactive workshop we will discuss one congregation’s awakening to earthkeeping through monarch butterfly conservation and the how the Spirit spiraled on from there. We will learn how these actions engaged the surrounding community and why congregations should fearlessly embrace the numerous scriptural references to creation care.

    The presenters are all members of Christ the King Lutheran Church in West Chester, Ohio. Donna Pellegrin is the founder of Youth for Monarchs and a certificated Permaculture Designer. Laura Zajac is the Ministry Coordinator at Christ the King, and the director of Monarch Fest. Susan Fox is the Elder of Outreach as well as gardener for the church and a registered landscape architect.

    Intro video:

    Workshop materials:

    Creation Care Resources

    You can view the workshop here: Creation Care and Community

  • November 18- Dinner Church in Your Context

    “Dinner Church.”  What is it?  There is a lot of buzz going around about this new—yet ancient–concept.  The buzz started, as many things do, on the US’s two ocean coasts.  Many of you have probably heard about St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, New York.  There are candles, flowers, music, lots of liturgy (including the Eucharist), and wholesome food cooked by the participants and served homestyle in a reclaimed storefront.   On other end of the country, Verlon Foster started a group of dinner churches that meet in larger halls.  There are praise bands and buffets with copious amounts of food heaped in steam trays.  Joy abounds in both types of dinner churches, but neither would necessarily work in YOUR context.

    Today, here in the Ohio, we are hearing about dinner church, brunch church, waffle church, and all sorts of variations.  Sounds like a good idea.  And, it sounds like an easy idea.  After all, many of our churches already have “feeding” ministries.  It’s tempting to think that “we’ll just add a couple of hymns and slap in a Bible reading and some prayers, and we’ve got dinner church.”

    Is it really that easy, though?  If you look behind the first layer of the movement, you will find that setting up and running a dinner church takes a lot of intentional discernment and planning.  Who do we think will come?  Are we trying to lure people in as a steppingstone to getting them to bolster our numbers at traditional worship on Sunday mornings, or are we open to the Holy Spirit creating a wholly new thing?  Are we going to use “churchy” language that might create a barrier for those who are unfamiliar with it?  What kind of food will we have, and who will prepare it?  There is a lot to think about and explore.

    Join us for this class.  We will frame up some of these questions and possible answers to help you start thinking about whether and how your community of faith can take part in the holy experiment that is dinner church.  WARNING:  We will even be talking about some theology.


    Pastor Richard Freudenberger is currently serving in three inner-city churches in Dayton:  Christ Lutheran Church in Old North Dayton, First Lutheran Church of Dayton, and New Hope Lutheran Church in the northwest area of the city.  Pastoring is Richard’s second career.  Five years ago, after practicing law for thirty years in the areas of corporate, commercial, and intellectual property law, he discerned that God had a new plan for him and he entered the ELCA’s program called “Theological Education for Emerging Ministries.”  He pursued his seminary education through the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkley, California while serving in a licensed leadership role at Christ Lutheran under the permission of our Bishop.  He was ordained during the pandemic in July 2020.  Richard has served in many capacities in the church, including bell choir director, worship committee chair, Sunday School teacher, lawn mower, and member of the Southern Ohio Synod’s Council.  He helped found the Dayton Urban Lutheran Allies, and is a member of the synod’s newly formed Cultivate team.  When the synod’s third Collaborative cohort begins in October, he will be accompanying his third church to be part of that program.  Richard is convinced that the Holy Spirit is working new things in our church, and he is looking forward to seeing how we can join Jesus in the restoration of the world in new ways.


    Topic: Southern Ohio Synod Vibrant Church Conference: “Dinner Church in Your Context”
    Time: Nov 13, 2021 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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  • Digital Ministry
    Zoom on Sept 26th 10am – 12pm
    Digital Ministry: How to use live-streaming, social media, your website and email to build community and live into God’s mission.

    Building community starts with making connections. During this time of pandemic and social distancing that is harder than ever. This session will teach you how to foster community and mission by building digital tools that create opportunity for face-to-face interaction and consistent meaningful experiences. Designed with your church in mind, this session is for churches of all sizes and resources.

    Topics Include:

    People & Purpose: Who are you talking to and what do you want them to do?

    Don’t Sweat It: How to have a vibrant digital presence without working 24/7

    The Work of the People: How Lay Leaders can create interactive liturgies and other community building experiences.

    From Consumer to Community: How to incorporate digital tools for discipleship, small groups, outreach and more.

    This course is led by Ben Morris, a member of the Congregational Renewal Team (Collaborative) of the Southern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and is a Church Council Member and Chairperson of the Inviting and Welcoming Ministry at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has been particularly active in the congregation’s online ministry.

    Coursework for registrants:

    Vibrant Congregations Digital Ministry Quick Start Guide
    Vibrant Congregations Digital Ministry Cheat Sheet
    Vibrant Congregations Digital Ministry Resources

  • Christmas During COVID
    Zoom on Oct 10th 10am – 12pm
    Christmas During COVID: How to make an amazing pageant with resources you already have

    Christmas will be here before we know it, and with it the joyful Christmas Pageant! But how can we even consider a pageant with social distancing, CDC guidelines, and a future that is uncertain at best? Join Pastor Hille as he discusses how to create a “Do It Yourself” Christmas Pageant, building on the strengths and resources that you already have in your congregation.

    Pastor Dan Hille is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Columbus.

    Materials for Saturday’s workshop:

    Handouts: Christmas During COVID Notes

  • Neighboring–Building Relationships
    Zoom on Nov 14th 10am – 12pm
    Neighboring–Building Relationships: How congregations can be part of a movement to Love Our Neighbors

    ‘Neighboring’ is about simply loving our neighbor. Neighboring means different things and takes on many different forms of actions in our congregations and homes. From formal outreach ministries and invitations, to the informal “hello” at the end of the driveway or over the back-yard fence, neighboring is happening. But what would it look like if each congregation, joined with civic leaders, and social service agencies, and crossed denominational divides to actually work together to learn from one another and teach one another about loving our neighbor? What if we could form a collaborative, that helps create a community-wide neighboring movement? Tune in to learn more about how to start a neighboring movement in your congregation and community. We will talk with Pastor Joel Seymour and Deacon Diane Schwiger-Alexander about how the movement came together in the Lancaster area and how it continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of one community, even in a global pandemic.

    Pastor Joel Seymour is Lead Pastor of the Lancaster Vineyard Church and founder of the Art of Neighboring Team in Lancaster, OH. Deacon Diane Schwiger-Alexander is a rostered minister of the ELCA, and former interim pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Lancaster.

    This session is based on the book, The Art of Neighboring. It is highly recommended that you read the book and check out the authors’ website at:

    Pre-work video. Please watch before 11.14.20 class.