“From Our Pastor – November 2018”

Visitors

The question has arisen recently about how best to welcome people when they come to our church for the first time.

It is a wonderful thing when we have the chance to be a part of community with new folks!  We also want to be careful about how we do that.  The old saying is true–we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

Most churches I’ve been a part of have, at some time, made a practice of asking new visitors to stand up and introduce themselves.  It helps people already in church get a feel for people they may not yet know.

However, repeated studies show that this is not a good idea.  For a very large majority of people, standing up and speaking in front of people they don’t know ranks as one of their biggest fears!  In my experience, people who are introduced in this way when they visit a church are very, very unlikely to return—I would say the number who do is under 10%.

So how do we welcome people without putting them “on the spot?”  It may be that you have had a conversation with someone, and they are completely OK with your introducing them publicly.  (Please keep in mind that even asking someone if it’s OK to introduce them puts a kind of pressure on them—which of course is the last thing we want to do to our guests!)  But if you’ve asked, and they’ve agreed, please say something like this:  “I want to introduce Bill, who has agreed that it was OK for me to introduce him…”  In that way, other new people don’t think, “It was Bill this time, but I could be singled out in public next…”

So if we don’t introduce people during worship (or if we seldom do), how do we connect with our guests?  The very best way to do this is one-on-one.  Before church, when someone sits by you in a pew, after worship—all present opportunities to greet someone, introduce yourself, and offer a welcome.  Please do not ask a lot of questions!  I have witnessed well-meaning people, over and over, driving guests away by pressing for information!  Many people come to church for the first time with some degree of trepidation—and overeager church folks interrogating them can be very off-putting!  A great rule of thumb is an introduction of who you are, accompanied by a word of welcome. When you talk to someone who returns for a second time, I think it’s appropriate to volunteer something about yourself, as well as to ask them something about themselves:  “Are you new in town?”  “Is this your first time worshipping here?”

Something I learned years ago is to avoid “us/them” language:  “I’m glad you’re visiting,” or “It’s good to have you in worship with us.”  Rather, use “we” language:  “It’s good to worship together.”  It helps people feel like they have an equal footing, a place in this community.

Anyway, some of the things I’ve outlined are not the way we may have done it—but it lays out a path of being sensitive to those whom God sends our way.  I’m of course happy to have further conversation about any or all of this!

Grace and Peace—

Pastor Matt

Mountain Meadows Ministry

As many of you know, our church has been helping to offer worship services on Sunday afternoons at the Mountain Meadows Senior Living Campus. We rotate with other churches, and end up doing this about once every 6 – 8 weeks. Recently, Carolyn Giger, who has been coordinating this ministry (thank you, Carolyn!!), has needed to step back.

My question: Is there someone, or multiple someones, who would like to take this on? It involves an hour or so every few months, and perhaps some phone calls to see if others would like to join in. Or, you might just agree to make calls and schedule others to be there, even if you are not able to go up to Mountain Meadows yourself.

What do you say? Is this something our church wants to continue, or is it time to let this one go to rest and move on to other things? Feel free to contact me with any further questions—Grace and Peace—

Pastor Matt

Children’s Ministry News

Thank you God!   We have four Sunday School Teachers scheduled for the 2018-2019 school year.  We cover the same bible story for 4 weeks in a row in different avenues. The first week is games, the next is science, after that is art and the last is cooking. We have not been able to run the Sparks program in this manner for years.  A big thank you to Donna, Claudia, and Pam. 

Last month on the 30th, we had a lemonade stand in the front yard of the church.  We made approximately $100. 00. We sold lemonade and a few bottles of water.  Thanks to Claudia for such a great idea. It was so much fun, we have attentive plans for next year! 

On October the 12th, we had a movie night down in Wesley hall.  We watched Aladdin.  First everyone ate Pam’s homemade macaroni and cheese, YUM! Then we ate loads of popcorn.  Pam, Phyllis and I were in attendance. There were 15 (?) children.  It turned out great!
 
We had two more events this month.  This Friday, the 26th was our Halloween Party from 5:30 to 7:30.   and on Sunday the 28th, Pam had another movie night for the older kids. AWESOME, we did not want to leave them out!!! They ate and watched Hocus Pocus from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

In November, we are planning a bowling event on Sunday the 18th from 3:30 to 5:30. This has not been confirmed, just yet. We will keep you informed.

Peggy and Pam

Children’s Ministries

A Farewell to Judy

Judy Davies . . . aka Secretary Judy, Office Judy, Judy Dear and Friend . . . is retired as of October 31, 2018. 

Judy has been the face and voice of our church since 1994. What would we have done without her constant prompting (ok, maybe nagging, but we still love her) to get our reports, newsletter articles and bulletin information to her each week or each month.

She has answered our e-mails and phone calls into the night for so many years. She has helped us continue as an active community church and supported our pastors and all of us for more than 24 years. That’s five pastors, countless church leaders and members usually wanting something, numerous equipment repair people (not to mention jammed machines at unwelcome times), frequent visitors and strangers, questions and requests — all handled with patience and grace.

Judy, you are an amazing person! You will be missed beyond words. Enjoy your retirement!

 

From Judy:

I have loved being your church secretary all these many years. But it is time for me to clean up my desk and turn my keys over to someone else. You all have been very supportive, generous, accepting and forgiving of me. Please be supportive of the new lady behind the desk. If she asks for help or advice, give it; if she doesn’t, don’t. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Judy Davies 

UMW News

The ladies of the church will meet again on Thursday, November 15th at 9:00 AM at the church.  We will continue our book study discussion on Half Truths by Adam Hamilton.  We will also do some fun “crafting” of bird feeders as we prepare for the craft/bake sale the first 2 Saturdays in December!  All women are invited to join this merry band of “sisters”!  A big thank you goes out to all the ladies who contributed sweets and desserts to the reception after Shirley Strand’s memorial service. 

Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center News

Construction on the new dining hall is nearing completion! Things are looking great as we get ready to occupy the new building. You can be involved in a couple ways: volunteer and/or attend 

the celebration open house on Saturday, November 17th.

During the month of October Lazy F needs your help to finish up construction. Each of the weekends in October will offer opportunities to help with painting, clean up, landscaping, or other odd jobs. You could stay for the weekend (meals and lodging provided) or come up for the day. The completion of this beautiful new facility is something to celebrate!  Many within our District have made this building possible.  Please come see the new facility on 

Saturday, November 17th 

11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Please RSVP by contacting the Lazy F office 

(509) 962-2780 for more information.

Tuesday Night Class to Begin

So what does church really have to do with life–especially the lives of people who have nothing to do with church?  Pastor Matt is teaching a new class, Tuesday evenings at 7pm. It began September 25th, entitled “Jesus and the World.”  We will to look, through Jesus’ eyes, at what is really going on in our world.  We’ll look at music, history, and our culture in general.  It is my hope that, with the development of new eyes to see what is happening all around us, we will rekindle our love for the world God has given us–and the wonderful, beautiful, diverse people who live in it.

We are meeting for an hour to an hour and a half–come join in the discussion as little or as much as you like–I think there’s a place for all kinds of people here.  This is also a good place to invite someone who may not have much to do with organized religion–we’re not about right and wrong answers; but rather about seeing God at work in the world, and finding the way to connect with God and each other.I hope to see you there!

Grace and Peace– Pastor Matt

“From Our Pastor – September 2018”

What About that Book, Anyway?

 

Beginning September 9th, we will be starting a new series titled, “How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth.”

 

Christians have been called “The People of the Book,” and yet often we really don’t know too much about the Bible—or worse, we “know” things that actually aren’t true….

 

It’s been called a guidebook, a roadmap, a rule for living, God’s law, and many other things besides—and yet the Bible is much more than any of these.

 

We will examine things like genre, languages, and how we got the Bible we have today.  We’ll look at it not as some magical, ultimately unknowable mystery, but as a collection of real documents, written by real people—which are at the same time inspired by God.

 

We’ll try to address some of the fallacies about the Bible, especially the ones that have become widespread…

 

We’ll also look at some of the parts of the Bible that give people the most trouble—not simply trying to explain them away, but to gain some deeper understanding of what’s actually being said, and the context from which it is written.

 

I encourage you to bring your questions about the Bible.  Send them to me, or simply raise them during the Sunday message (I don’t promise immediate answers on all of those…).

 

Together, it is my hope that we come better to understand this book which is absolutely central to our faith!

 

Grace and Peace—

 

Pastor Matt

“From Our Pastor – October 2018”

“A fairly long article–but I find it very helpful in the situation that our church and our world are facing.”  –Pastor Matt

A Way Forward

   As United Methodists ponder the future (part of which includes choices before General Conference about “A Way Forward”), there is one reality that must be faced. Cultural diversity is not only increasing but accelerating exponentially. Any decision about the Commission on a Way Forward’s report will occur in that context.

   Unfortunately, I think church people face cultural diversity in much the same way they face global warming. It scares them to death, but they think if they just ignore it that it will go away. Unlike global warming, however, cultural diversity actually represents more opportunity than threat. In order to discover the opportunities, church people must set aside ideological polarization to understand the chasms between the cultural left, cultural right, and cultural middle. And they must find the courage to bridge those chasms with greater empathy for the contexts in which people live and work, play and pray, raise families, and quest for God in unique ways.
   Whether United Methodists have the courage to do this is yet to be revealed. One of the most important admonitions of the Commission on a Way Forward’s report uses Arbinger mediation language:
“The condition of our heart to another person very much shapes the outcomes. If we have a heart at peace, we see the other as a person, with many needs, hopes and gifts. If we have a heart at war, we see the other as an object or an obstacle to our own desires and visions. In addition, a heart at war exaggerates the differences between persons in order to prepare to go to war with them. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
  
But the only way to have the courage to adopt a “heart of peace” is to first empathize with the cultural diversity and the many distinct and sometimes opposite lifestyles that are included in it.
Greater understanding is possible. I wrote Sideline Church: Bridging the Chasms between Churches and Cultures for that reason. Unless the church (denominational) and the churches (congregational) build that broader empathy, then nationally and locally it will be increasingly on the sidelines of American culture. Neither the left nor right nor middle will care a jot what the church thinks, says, or does. 
   Just like the issue of global warming, so also the issue of cultural diversity is more complicated than many church people think. I hear church people (and seminary professors) blithely talk about community context without detailed understanding of true diversity. Cultural diversity is no longer just about race, ethnicity, language, diet, music, or country of origin. Nor is diversity merely about gender, age, income, intimacy, occupation, or any other categorization. Generalizations have been swept away as society fragments into more and more lifestyle segments. That process started around 1981 when the personal computer made the internet mainstream and we began tracking digital footprints.     
   Contrary to what many perceive, cultural diversity is not primarily driven by immigration or education. It is now driven by technology. The digital world has created a whole new cultural complexity because it has fostered unprecedented sharing of ideas, perceptions, and behavioral norms. These in turn shape, and are continually reshaping, how individuals and groups find meaning in life. These are called “Lifestyle Portraits,” and these are now the basic building blocks for cultural diversity. “Lifestyle Portraits” are now used by every sector of society — corporate, non-profit, health care, education, media, entertainment, law, government, and even the military — but only sporadically by the church.                             
                                                                                                 (continued on the next page)

Continued:
Consider what happened in American culture since I completed my doctoral dissertation in 1981 using a fountain pen and IBM Selectric typewriter. The former was introduced by the Fatimid Islamic Caliphate in 974, refined by Leonardo da Vinci in the last decades of the 15th century, and went mainstream in Europe in the 17th century. The latter was introduced in 1961. And then…

  • AOL popularized the first social media in 1983
  • Experian began tracking digital personal information in 1996
  • Facebook appeared in 2004
  • Twitter appeared in 2006

I first became aware of MissionInsite in 2008, and have subsequently written five books on lifestyle expectations for ministries and spiritual leaders since 2013 (with the technological assistance of Microsoft).
   Every single United Methodist Conference subscribed to MissionInsite by 2016. Insights into lifestyle expectations for ministries have been available to local churches for strategic planning for ten years. Yet it is astonishing how church people still think they “know their community” without knowing the diverse lifestyles represented within the community. We still make broad, old-fashioned generalizations about age, race, gender, family, class, and religion that are no longer accurate. We still assume a handful of simplistic theological and ideological assumptions encompass all the nuances of moral choices and spiritualties among 71 distinct lifestyle portraits in America. Our indifference to the realities of cultural diversity has brought us to the brokenness we experience today. 
   I think it is important to understand what is at stake here. It is not merely the survival of the United Methodist Church, in whole or in parts, but the relevance of Methodism as a way of spiritual life among more and more emerging lifestyle portraits. This cultural diversity is growing exponentially. Technology (including social media) is not only tracking diversity, but energizing more and more diversity. Generations previously emerged every thirty years or so, but today new lifestyle portraits are emerging every single year. United Methodists used to worry about reaching the youth. Today they should worry that every emerging lifestyle segment is stepping further and further away from the institutional church. And it’s not because of the music or the coffee. It’s not even because of the theology or the ideology. It’s because the church refuses to understand, adapt, and bless them in the ways that encourage their unique quests for God. 
   Full disclosure: I am not a member of the United Methodist Church, but have a great admiration for Methodism. When I read the Commission on a Way Forward’s report, I had two reactions.
   The first reaction is that of the options presented, only one faces the realities of cultural diversity. That is the “One Church Plan.” No doubt this plan raises a number of polity headaches about connectionalism, apportionments and appointments, and mission agency funding. But as an outsider looking in, it seems to me that the eternal value of Methodism is not that it is a set of religious rules but rather a way of spiritual life. It is an admirable way! For fifty years, United Methodists have navigated their practice of spiritual life with a quadrilateral that seeks truth through four sources (the entirety of scripture, the whole history of all the church, reasonable facts and fairness, and the constant presence of the Holy Spirit).         
   If that occasionally leaves church leaders in a quandary over issues like gender equality, birth control, pacifism, marriage equality and more, so be it. All leadership entails risk in the midst of culture… and trust in the wisdom of God. With that in mind, I think the “One Church Plan” could be renamed the “One Tradition Plan.” One way, many churches, credible leaders. 
   The other options don’t face the realities of cultural diversity. There are too many lifestyle portraits — and many more to come. The complex organizational changes of the “Connectional Conference Plan” focuses the church inward rather than outward. The rigidity of the “Traditionalist Plan” simply reinforces the #1 criticism among all lifestyle portraits (progressive and traditional) that churches are just too judgmental. 
   My second reaction is that the claim by any church to even have a “choice” is, in a sense, a form of hubris. Churches don’t really have a choice. Churches today are caught between growing cultural diversity on the one hand and God’s urgency to bless all people on the other. You can’t build walls to keep culture out, and you can’t tell God what to do. The Commission report recognizes this. 
   “The matters of human sexuality and unity are the presenting issues for a deeper conversation that surfaces different ways of interpreting Scripture and theological tradition.” 

   But this is only one side of the eternal tension of Christian ministry. One can only pursue a deeper conversation about scripture and tradition if one also pursues a deeper empathy with cultural diversity and the profound religious questions different lifestyle portraits are really asking. We are called to answer their questions, not just develop our theologies. The recognition of cultural diversity is not a choice. 
  But understanding cultural diversity is not a popular task, and the choice for the “One Church Plan” may not be a popular option.     

  • For those lifestyle portraits included in the cultural middle (which today I describe as the culturally passive), it requires work. Church people among the cultural middle are reluctant to leave the office and vacate the pew to really listen, learn, and love the strangers that surround them.
  • Extremists among church leaders of the cultural leftand the cultural right (which today I describe as the culturally ambivalent and the culturally righteous) may not like this choice either. It means that they cannot force everyone to agree with their theological or ideological positions.

In short, the option to embrace cultural diversity means that self-interest and power-struggle are not options anymore. And standing up for that is, truly, an act of courage.                -Tom Bandy

 

 

 

Book Review…RISKING CHURCH

Pastor Matt offered messages in July and August based on Jim Kallam Jr’s book RISKING CHURCH.  After reading this visionary work and hearing Pastor Matt’s series, one cannot help but come away asking major questions:   How can we stir a passion in others to walk with Christ?  Are we bold enough to be willing to move into a friend’s life without just sending a message that “you can be my friend if you can catch me.”  Can we be secure in Christ – secure enough to realize this has nothing to do with our goodness or abilities or accomplishments, yet rather because of what Jesus did for us?  Can we understand that in our church we “belong”?  That each of us is on an equal footing BECAUSE we belong?  Kallam writes:  “We’re equally forgiven, equally loved, equally His son or daughter.”   His words that we’re “…all important”, “…all necessary”, all in need of one another is an important step in understanding why we’re all part of community.  We’re a wonderful blend of folks who desire to be loved, to love, and to grow in Christ as He asks of us.

At the end of Kallam’s book, he offers a prayer for the church, OUR church:  Father, My prayer today is for the church.  It’s a prayer of vision, of what isn’t now but could be.  I know You love the church; Father, I do too.  I pray that you will release OUR Church to be a community that reflects Your Son, Jesus.  I pray that we will be a loving community.  I pray the leaders’ meetings will be more about worship and shepherding than about business.  I pray that facades will be replaced by honest struggle.  I pray that the self-centered attitudes of “What’s in it for me?”  will give way to attitudes of serving others.  I pray the Scriptures not only will be studied but will stir a passion in us to know You more.  I pray that judgment of others will be overshadowed by radical grace given to all.  I pray that the unbelieving world will see a loving group of people living out their faith, and be unable to explain it away in human terms.  I pray for community to become contagious and spread to everyone in our church.  Thank You, Father, for loving me, for speaking to me through Your Son, and for giving me Your Holy Spirit to make this supernatural life possible.  I pray all this in the powerful name of the One whose shed blood provides forgiveness and established the new covenant – the name of Jesus.  Amen

 

Blessings, Carolyn Giger