“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching“… ~ Hebrews 10:24-25
I had a conversation with a mentor and colleague of mine the other day, and the topic of discussion was what we were planning to do about confirmation this year. Curriculum has changed in the more than a decade since she and I have served together, and she felt it was time for her church to move forward in a new direction. It was a great conversation, and helped clarify my own thoughts on what we, as this particular faith community, need to begin thinking about to grow into Body of Christ that God is calling us to be.
In the history of the UCC, and in most denominations in the United States, the Church as an institution has been declining. This isn’t new news. But add to that the fact that once churches re-opened after the worst of the pandemic, many people haven’t gone back. Even with people worshipping online, churches across the country are having to face the difficult questions of “Who are we now, given we have half the number of members we had 2 years ago?”, and “How are we going to make it in the next 2 years?”
In this new time, as I have preached several times, we are in a very unique place in history. We are going to be able to rewrite how the Church, as the Body of Christ, will be in our world. But we need to use discernment and move forward with intention.
This means getting back to our roots, beginning from the beginning. In our conversation, my colleague and I decided that there are certain things that an intentional Church community needs to learn and do: love one another, no matter who, no matter where, no matter what—the first and most important commandment; to forgive as we have been forgiven; who God is, and how to have a relationship with Them; same with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit; and to serve one another. Everything else will come.
In light of these things, what we do as a faith community should revolve around these truths, and if they don’t, we don’t do them. This might mean we are going to do things differently, and sometimes not at all. And that’s okay. We will introduce new things, and that is good as well!
One of those new ways happened last Sunday evening. We had our first of three All Ages Messy Church VBS with First Christian. I said if we got 20 people to come, it would be great; and if we got 25 to come, I would thrilled. We ended up with 33 people from ages 1.5 years to almost 90! We had an amazing time! It was new, but the Holy Spirit was present and playing, and it was exactly what it should have been. A faith community learning about the Love of God together. (We hope you can join us August 14 for the second VBS—Love Your Neighbor.)
One of my favorite camp songs is “It Only Takes a Spark.” What other things can we do differently in order to grow into the Body of Christ in this new time? Do you have ideas? Is the Holy Spirit laying something on your heart? Is there something we are missing currently that would help you, or others, want to see happening within our church? Remember, some of the old familiar things, which we loved and were good in their time, may need to stay in the past, in order to make room for new things to take root. Some will take lots of thought, some will be no-brainers, and others will shove us out of our comfort zones. But that is what we do as a faith community. And if it doesn’t work, then we will try something else. What “spark” can Faith UCC be in this post-pandemic world?
In the meantime, be sure to watch the bulletins and announcements to see how you can use your gifts to serve this wonderful Faith community.
~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi