A Pastoral Word
August 2014

From the Cabinet Retreat:

A group of ten leaders of Midway Christian Church gathered in the church's fellowship hall on Saturday July 12th for our annual Cabinet Retreat. I invited the group to think about what our church does well and what areas of ministry need strengthening at our church. This conversation was followed up by an invitation to the group from me to complete a "walk-around" exercise. The purpose of this exercise was to view the Midway community and our congregation from the perspective of a visitor in hopes that we might discover things that are new to us but also to recognize things that have become so familiar that they are not noticed.

  • One of our learnings is that our church may not be as welcoming as we all assumed we were! The group noticed that there were no signs directing people to where the fellowship hall, sanctuary or office are on our church campus and that our church sign didn't even have the word, "Welcome" on it, which is a huge part of our mission as Midway Christian Church.

  • We also discussed reports from the Percept Group, a company that supplies churches with demographics of the area that surrounds the church and offers analytic tools to help the church use the information such as sharing information about religious attitudes, preferences and behavior of the people in that area. I had ordered a report for the zip code 40347 in which Midway Christian Church resides. It was eye-opening for the group as well.

  • It indicated that within our area, the overall faith receptivity of the people in our area is high and that the church style preferences were for traditional worship, music, and architecture. It also stated that 90% of the households have a preference for historic Christian religious affiliations and that their preference for church programs was for programs designed to help people grow spiritually.

So what do we do with all this information?

I challenged the Cabinet leaders and the congregation of Midway Christian Church to grow by 10 families or members in our upcoming church year which runs July 2014 to June 2015. We have taken care of our foundations: new by-laws and constitution, new church structure, tuck-pointing and now it is time for us to take care of sharing the Word. Invite your friends. Invite your family. Invite people who you know need to hear that they are God's Beloved Children.

Also as part of this challenge, Midway Christian Church will begin a new worship service on Sunday, October 19th, called "Dinner Church." We are still working on a name but the general concept is based on a service from St. Lydia's in New York:

"We gather every Sunday and Monday night to cook and share a sacred meal. Our congregation is looking for an experience of the Holy Spirit that is strong enough to lean on, deep enough to question, and challenging enough to change us.

Our life together is founded on three pillars:

  • Sharing the Meal: Our worship takes place at the table around a big, delicious meal that we cook together. Communion is made as we share food and ourselves by exploring scripture, singing, and praying together.

  • Telling Our Story: Jesus told a lot of stories, and so do we. We tell the story of Christ's dying and rising, and through it, uncover the daily dyings and risings that comprise our lives.

  • Working Together: When you arrive at [the dinner church] you'll be put straight to work preparing dinner or setting the table. Working together unites us as a community and brings us closer to God." (taken from St. Lydia's website)

No we will not copy St. Lydia's. We will create something that is based on Midway Christian Church's unique identity. This just seemed like an obvious connection with who we are as a church since our experience at the Lord's Table has truly become a practice for us and is a part of everything we do. We can trace our Green Chalice Movement back to the Table where we see it as a justice issue, calling us to take care of God's creation. We can trace our Free Monthly Community Dinners back to the Table because we are reminded that every time we gather at the Lord's Table, we are called to take care of one another.

At this time, we are still working out the details on how to make the concept of "Dinner Church" our own, but I would ask that you keep this small seed of faith in your prayers, asking that the Holy Spirit nurture and nourish it into growth.

The Elders of Midway Christian Church are also doing their part as well as the spiritual leaders of our church. We are taking up a study, "Unbinding the Gospel," a study designed to help us talk about our faith and to open our minds up to new understandings of evangelism.

I was asked why this idea for Dinner Church hadn't come sooner, why hadn't our learnings from the walk-around exercise come sooner, why hadn't we picked up the challenge of 10 new members sooner and I replied by saying, we weren't ready. Over the last eight years, we as a congregation have been working on figuring out who we are. We have had some conversations that have needed to happen for over twenty years, but because of minster turn over, the church has not been able to have them.

Midway Christian Church is in a good place right now. I can feel the Holy Spirit moving and calling us to something great. We are at a point in history where we have a choice, just like the Israelites did when they saw the promise land. We have a choice just like the disciples did on that Pentecost morning when the Holy Spirit came to them. We can either follow the Spirit of God, trusting where God will lead us or we can turn back to what we used to know. Either direction will allow us to continue to be Midway Christian Church but only one way will continue to show us God's Kingdom in our midst.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure what the future holds for Midway Christian Church. I'm not sure if this "Dinner Church" will work out. I'm not sure if we will reach our goal of 10 new members but there is one thing I do know for sure, I am excited for whatever is in our future because I know that God has been preparing us all along for this journey and that God will be right there with us, leading us and guiding us.

Heather
 

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green chalice
Green Chalice Congregation since 2010
Certified Green Chalice Congregation since 2015
Midway Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
123 East Bruen Street
P.O. Box 4548
Midway, KY 40347
(859) 846-4102