Hello, and Happy New Year from your friendly neighborhood DEM. As we’re all looking to 2022 with hopes for a better year, I’m starting a monthly newsletter with the intent that this can be a resource for your ministry. I know, we all need another email subscription like we need another hole in the head, but in seriousness, it doesn’t do the synod good for me to be learning about tools and practices for mission if I’m not sharing them with the synod, and I want this to be a short and sweet compilation of things that may help plant seeds of ideas in your context and actually be useful. All that said, here’s what I’ve got this month:
An idea worth considering:
Micro-church. It looks like it’s popular in some evangelical circles, so be aware with your googling. In short, it is building community around a shared interest or activity and bringing in Word and Sacrament. In some places, this looks like “wild church” – groups going on hikes and worshipping on top of a mountain. I’ve heard of Dungeons and Dragons groups that do this in the NW Ohio synod. I’m interested in this because these are typically ministries that:
- can reach new people that might not ever come into your church building or engage your ministries through authentic engagement around an interest.
- are connected to an existing congregation, so if there is need for pastoral care, funerals, weddings, etc. there is already a wider community connection of support.
- are cheap. Anyone can start them.
- build on something the people in it are already interested in.
- are fun.
This is small enough to be agile and test the waters with, without having to invest a lot of time or money, and if it works, great, if not, it’s always something that you can try again in another iteration without much of a loss.
Resources or recommended reading
Grace and Gigabytes by Ryan Panzer
Being honest, I’m not bought in %100 to everything in this book – for example, I personally very much wrestle with the idea of online community being an adequate replacement for what the church has historically offered – and those of you who know me well have probably heard me say Facebook is the devil (which I stand by). What I appreciate about this book beyond the things I am not-quite-there-on is the fact that Panzer addresses that we are living in a different culture and how we might engage it beyond just paying for the latest and greatest technology. To borrow an idea from Neil Postman, we aren’t living in the year 2000 plus the internet and social media; we are living in a different world – it’s a transformation and not just an addition. Even for a luddite like me, Panzer’s “high tech, low-tech, and no-tech” options for churches speak to how we can address this cultural shift regardless of what we think about certain things or how tech-savvy our congregation members are. If you want to get a quick introduction before buying the book, there are resources on the synod website [https://scsynod.com/congregational-vitality/]. All in all, I’d say it’s worth a read.
Thanks for reading.
If you’ve got a ministry idea you’re chewing on that I can help with, if you want to have conversation about micro-churches, or if you just want to talk about the MLB lockout and its consequences for the 2022 season, please reach out! I know the pandemic has been hard and I can’t make it less work, but I’d love to help make the work you do more meaningful or exciting.
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