As we continue in Fall with an eye this month at remembering what we are thankful for, I hope these are useful for you.
An idea worth considering: Whose problem are we trying to solve?
One of the things I do is work with churches who are looking to better engage their communities. That’s at least how I frame it. Usually, it’s asked more like “What are best practices for increasing Sunday attendance?” or “How can we get back all the people that haven’t come back since COVID?” Those questions are the wrong ones to solve. Nobody looking for a church is looking just for a comfortable place to sit on a Sunday morning (otherwise, our pews would be a lot more comfortable). Nobody outside the church cares about helping the people in it increase their attendance.
When people are looking for a church, they’re looking for a place to deepen their relationship with God in Christian community. When we get focused on solving our problems, we miss meeting people in what they are actively searching for in a church. The first step is making the shift from asking questions we want to answer, to listening to the community’s needs for Christian community and meeting them where they are.
A resource worth checking out: The 21st Century Christian by Michael Moynagh and Michael Adam Beck
This is the second book by Michael Adam Beck that I’ve recommended, and also comes out of the Fresh Expressions tradition. This little book, currently only $9.99 on Amazon, is like a guidebook for a pastor, engaged lay leaders, or a congregation that is looking to expand its ministry beyond Sunday morning. Fresh expressions are about meeting people where they are, bringing in a faith component, and through shared activity and interests, introduce the story of Jesus. Often lay led, these small, cheap, and available-to-anyone ministries are quickly growing globally, particularly in the church of England and in the United Methodist Church. If you’re looking to do some small experiments of gathering people outside the walls of the church, this is worth a look.
Our experiment: an update
Back in September, I shared the vitality team was running an experiment of gathering people via zoom for conversations on topics of interest. In short, it didn’t work (for a lot of reasons). But, we learned! And we are trying again. We saw at convocation how hungry rostered leaders are for community and we want to bring people together. So, the synod vitality team is in the early stages of planning regular, topic-centered, hybrid events for Rostered Leaders in different parts of the synod in 2023. Keep an ear out, and if you’ve got an idea for a topic, let me know!
Thanks for reading!
If you want to chat about the Fresh Expressions movement, if you want to brainstorm ways to move your council to ask better questions, or if you want to lament the Phillies performing so poorly in the World Series, give me a call or reply to this email. I’m here to walk with you in whatever way I can.
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