Missions Innovations

The other day I read an article about declining trends in American culture-- things we are more and more doing away with, such as buying music CDs, having a dedicated phone line at home, and renting movies from a store (Blockbuster, for example, is closing lots of stores this year). Many of the items on the list were cutting edge ideas at one time, but technology has moved forward, or people's interests have changed. Adapting to changing needs is often frustrating, unpredictable, and frustrating. But there is also a tremendous upside when a new idea-- even an idea about an outdated or forgotten thing-- hits the mainstream.

Churches find themselves in a similar situation. The culture changes, but too often we react too slowly or not at all. Sometimes we offer services or opportunities that match our current membership ("current" in churches can be 50 years ago!), and we lose sight of what is happening outside of our walls. The common cliche here is to think "outside of the box." Sometimes, as I have said before, there is no box-- we're on our own to come up with a model that reaches more people for Christ, while at the same time fulfills those already here.

The disaster in Haiti has seen a wonderful response from people across the world. Doctors and nurses have flown to the island on free flights from the airlines. Military personnel have come to help bring order to the chaos. Supplies and millions of dollars have poured into the effort from just about everywhere. Most of these gifts were probably given through proven methods: credit cards, cash, checks. But someone had a very creative idea: text HAITI to a number, $10 would be added to your mobile bill and the money would go to The Red Cross. It was a great way to mix technology with just about everyone's impulse to help others in need.

After many meetings and literally hours of listening, conversing, and praying, our church has decided to make changes to our Sunday morning (and evening!) schedule. After this weekend, we will return to two traditional services on Sunday morning: 8:30 and 11:00. The Crossover worship service will move to Sundays at 6:30 p.m., beginning February 21. An added benefit to moving Crossover to Sunday evenings will be the opportunity to reach more people for Christ, such as those who work on Sundays or need those extra morning hours for rest! With one dedicated hour for Sunday school, the hope is we'll have more opportunities for learning and fellowship. More adult opportunities will also be offered Sunday evenings, also on February 21.

Not everyone will be happy with these changes, but that's not a realistic expectation for any decision. There were plenty of opportunities for voices to be heard, and I am so thankful for those who accepted the invitations and shared their thoughts. I don't know if we could fairly refer to a dedicated Sunday school hour or Sunday evening worship as innovative, but there is a significant opportunity for more people to experience the love and grace of Christ, which is a good thing. Will the world be changed? Who knows. Will our church be changed? Almost certainly. As always, this will take the effort of everyone to make it successful. I hope you will join me in praying for our church family as we make these changes.

Change and innovation are constant realities in the world today. That can cause fear, excitement, or, more likely, something in the middle. The results from doing things differently can be rewarding and surprising-- I've offered a couple of examples below. The question I will be thinking about, and I invite you to join with me in this as well, is: After February 21, what will be the next new/surprising/different thing we will do to reach more people for Christ?

Lemonade for Haiti
Jackson Bowling and his friends opened up a lemonade stand Monday to raise money for UMCOR in Haiti. They raised $63!

Flamingos for Africa
Zoe Ministry reaches out to AIDS orphans in Africa, providing funds for small businesses. They give seed money to groups in the church, who use that money to raise more. Our youth group was given $100, turned that money into plastic pink flamingos, and so far they've doubled that investment! They visited our house this week, and I must say they were very well behaved. Contact Daniel to send them to your neighbor's yard!