the Pastor's Desk (June
Here is Why We Need Visioning
I am about to have my one-year anniversary as Lead Pastor of First UMC- Fulton. And I want to take that time to share some thoughts about our missional calling here at First. We are a church that loves our community but we, like a lot of churches, struggle to know what to do to reach out to our neighbors.
You all have done a great job of investing in our children and at times other children. And over the past 3 years you did a specific, significant expansion of our ministry toward the youth. Children’s ministry has amazing lay leadership—truly at a level that is difficult to find. Ministry to children and youth is often the easy, go-to thing that communities do agree on. So, it is a good and understandable thing that those ministries have gotten positive attention—always more to do. But moving.
Our fellowship and worship again is one of those areas that we are prone to go to for our calling and identity. These are often called our internal, spiritual work. And the work that goes into fellowship and worship is growing and moving here, and prayerfully will continue to become richer and even deeper spiritual experiences for all.
But here is the question that I am pushing at, one that I am not certain of the answer, “Do we know who we are and what our mission is?” As United Methodist our mission statement says, “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” And if we listen to the scripture passage shared on Trinity Sunday we are called to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19a) Those of us that attended Annual Conference over a week ago were reminded that we are called to “offer Jesus to a hurting world one neighborhood at a time.”
But this still gets me back to my question, “Do we, Fulton First UMC, know who we are and what our mission is?” And the even harder question, “How do we faithfully and with passion fulfill that mission?”
We have the Willingham Center that was part of a vision to do something for the community and to draw people to us. The complete vision of it has not been what was originally planned. And along the way there have been hurts and difficulties at adapting the ministry of the Willingham Center in this new reality—one that does not involve the pool. Good ministry is happening there but we have never visioned and asked, “What is the Willingham Center to our missional calling as a church?” Do we need to take a breath there?
Every aspect about ministry and sharing Christ is about being able to adapt to our current realities and to the current culture. Being adaptable as a church means having a lot of self-insight first, addressing our weaknesses second, and third, building our strengths.
The Church Council of Fulton First committed this year to every other month having Visioning Gatherings instead of our regular meetings. Good work and conversation is happening there but we need more people around the table to make it even more effective work. We need you there.
Tuesday, July 11 and Tuesday, September 12 are our next Visioning Gatherings. Please plan now to be a part of one of these gatherings. Pray for these vital meetings for the sharing of the Gospel of Christ here on the corner of Carr Avenue and Second Street. These gatherings are for sharing in loving-kindness our strengths, weaknesses, and insights.
Why is this important? We live in a moment in church history when deep change is underway, both in culture and in the church. Much of society has decided that we do not have what they need, so they stay away. They need to experience the Gospel! To see it lived out in ways that impact lives, overcome their skepticism and their cynicism. And we are the people of God that are called to share that Gospel. Please join us.
Peace and Love in Christ,