Welcome to the Monday Mailing #24 –
Questions abound. . .and that’s a good thing.
Wasn’t it just yesterday we were singing together: School’s out for summer? Okay it wasn’t yesterday, it was March. We are well into our sixth month of this. . .this Covid19, mask wearing, personal distancing, work-from-home, Global Pandemic. Twenty-four weeks ago we swapped in-person worship for Zoom. We do meetings, bible studies and other things purely by Zoom. Seven months ago that wasn’t you. . .and yet, when you needed to, you rose to the challenge and continued to be the church. The Mission and Social Witness ministry of the church, along with our stellar
Presbyterian Women, have faithfully led us in Mission efforts during this time. And for that I am so grateful!
Last Saturday, I had the opportunity for some continuing education. That has been difficult for us clergy, and most of it is on Zoom, and we are so tired of Zooming, that thinking of another engagement on Zoom makes us crazy (or crazier. . .you decide). But the opportunity presented itself, and I wanted to hear the Keynote Speaker, so I girded myself with coffee and snacks, and began to Zoom. The Keynote was great. But so was one of the workshops. It was entitled: GET OUT! Rethinking the Role of the Church in Community.
The workshop leaders asked us to consider what role our church does play in our community. This is the Who is our Neighbor question I have invited you to engage. He suggested that most churches are filling a role in that is no longer needed. . .we think more about what we need and less about what the members of the community need from the church.
Nowhere is this more evident in the life of the church than in the first change he offered. . .that of online engagement. The Pandemic forced us into online worship… and while we miss the community building that has happened in the past in our in-person worship, we are still making community. Together, we must embrace on-line platforms – not for us – but for the community. We must engage on Social Media (sharing and liking – have you liked our Facebook Page yet?) And post things. Many will say, I don’t use those things. Others would say, you never know just who is going to learn something new about God because of something I posted. You see, life in the church really isn’t about you and me. . .it is about what we do to share the love of God in Christ with those who need to hear the news –the good news– from us.
The second change is that we need to Embrace Organic Spiritual Practices. It sounds like minister mumbo-jumbo, and it might be. What it means is combining things that are needed with a spiritual understanding and basis. In his church they had a Burritos and Bible night at a local eatery. Food, and conversation about a text. They also had a Hiking Club. . .open to the community, where they would pause at some point and reflect on a scripture about God’s creation. As by-product, some began carrying plastic bags into which they put the trail trash they came upon. Caring for God’s Creation, lived out. The church also realized that their community had a larger-than-normal number of foster families, so they established a Foster Closet. . .loaded with supplies (bought and donated) for the wide variety of ages of fosters – so that the families could easily get what they needed for the foster children, and thereby focus on the emotional and spiritual needs of the child.
Rethinking the Role of the Church in community is about Partnership. . .don’t compete with the churches in the neighborhood; partner with them to do ministry. Don’t compete with the agencies which are doing things; partner with them. Highlight the mission engagements of others on your social media. Become the catalyst that brings people together in changing the world.
Finally, our message extends beyond the people in the pews, the walls of the building. We need to know the story of faith, be compelled by the story of faith, and learn to tell the story – the story of God at work at HUPC, and the story of God at work in your own life. A compelling, bold vision says a lot. What are our Visions?
It really wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, but given the life we are living now, I heard it in a different way. How about you? You’ve heard most of these things before from me, and probably (in one way or another) from pastors in the past. What about these ideas is compelling to you? What are things that you could do. . .in your own life, in your own sphere? What changes can you be a part of at HUPC?
You see, the work of the church never ends. . .and if it does, then the church ends. HUPC is a place of great faith and wonder. How might we re-think the Role of the church in the community?
Peace to you. . .and faithful disturbances, too!