Yesterday after the service, almost 20 people stayed for the latest Brown Bag Lunch. We talked about where we are as a church, dreamed a bit about where we could be, and sought to answer some tough questions about the core of our identity. Everyone was super engaged and willing to think about new possibilities, and overall the conversation was a rousing success!
What would we do if we could not meet in a building?
We began the Brown Bag by asking the question, “What would we do if we could not meet in a building?” In groups around tables, people brainstormed this idea. Some focused on how we might accomplish what we set out to accomplish every Sunday morning in a worship service, suggesting alternate types of locations, and even some virtual options. Others considered what we might do beyond Sunday. Without a building would we tend to serve more, would we gather at shelters, or in nursing homes, places where we could serve the folks there, while being the church together.
After fielding answers, pastor Joe offered a reflection on the church, connecting it to the history of the people of God going back to Abraham, and seeing how God has worked throughout history by dwelling with a particular people for the sake of reaching and reconciling the rest of the world. Based on statements made by Jesus in the gospels, we looked at how the church is called to be a community who proclaims the gospel to all the cosmos (all of creation), makes disciples of Jesus, and who love everyone. In doing these things we will be witnesses to the fact that Jesus is Lord, and that there is a Kingdom of God which leads to a different life than the kingdom of this world.
We are to proclaim the gospel to all creation, make disciples of all people, and love everyone in everything we do so that the neighborhood will see in us the kingdom of God and the fact that Jesus is Lord.
After this reflection, the groups went back to answer the question again, “What would we do if we could not meet in a building?” Answers become more about how others might see and hear our message as a church, which led to a new question, “If we were doing these things, how would we spend our money?”
The Money situation
Like many churches today, New Hope faces the reality of financial difficulty, and we had a frank discussion about where we are, and where we might possibly go so as to be sure that we are using our financial resources well (Despite the exercise above, this does not include no longer having a building, that was merely an imaginative exercise). We certainly have challenges ahead of us, but everyone’s heart to see that New Hope continues to serve well, and willingness to dig deep are encouraging signs for the future. If you’d like detailed information about what was shared during this portion of the meeting, please contact pastor Joe.
In the end we turned our attention to answering the question, “How do we live out our calling as a church, using the gifts we’ve been given in the context of relationships?” Here’s where we shared ideas of service, and connected with others in the neighborhood. We talked about meeting people at the Community Lunch and Backpack Event on August 3 with an ear to listening for people who might need help that we can offer. We also talked about how to best implement our neighborhood survey in an attempt to get a manageable amount of information about how we can be better neighbors to the people around the church. One group even suggested opening a Donut Shop, which is a great sign that we are beginning to think creatively about how we can serve the community in new and inventive ways.
What do we do now?
The Transition Team will meet on July 21 to talk about the logistics coming out of this meeting and to create a prayer list for the new prayer team to focus on when they meet once a month. Based on the conversation from Sunday, the team will have lots to talk about, including the following:
- Discipleship training ideas. There was an interested in learning how talk to others about Jesus, and to learn ways to branch out and meet new people.
- The Community Cookout and Backpack Event. How can we make this event more than just a giveaway, but an actual gathering with our neighbors?
- Our Financial Solutions. How do we creatively meet the financial challenges we face as a church?
What was your takeaway from the Brown Bag Lunch? Did you hear something else that encouraged you, challenged you, brought up questions? Let us know in the comment section below.
Please be in prayer for New Hope as we seek to be faithful to our calling, and to learn how to become the people God desires us to be.