Rethink Church: Get Your Congregation Started
SUMMARY: What if church were a verb… a way of life, rather than simply a place to go on Sundays? The people of The United Methodist Church are embracing this call which relates back to our Wesleyan heritage and biblical mandate of social holiness. The single most important way to ready your congregation to embark on the “Rethink Church” journey is to start the conversation. How do we redefine the church experience beyond the church doors and invite people to become engaged in the world? And once we are prepared for the journey, how do we engage others to actively rethink church?
Invite members to engage in dialogue about what this church-wide effort could mean for your faith life. “Rethink Church” is a call to action for all congregations to embrace the Wesleyan way of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
First, you must build understanding and enthusiasm among people in the pews. Without this, efforts are futile. Begin a purposeful dialogue about the opportunity and challenge that “Rethink Church” presents to your congregation. Here is how:
• Review the resources and materials available at www.umcom.org/RethinkChurch.
• Seek volunteers to facilitate and participate in roundtable discussions on your local launch of “Rethink Church.”
• Invite your congregation’s young adults to make recommendations about how your church might participate in “Rethink Church.” Deputize them to be the “Rethink Church” brains for your congregation, and take their ideas and counsel to heart.
• Use worship to call for an open dialogue around “Rethink Church.” Offer specific guidance for how to participate in that conversation (such as hosting a “Rethink Church” discussion group at 7 p.m. Wednesdays).
• Ask un-churched members of your community to participate in a roundtable session or panel discussion. Encourage them to speak candidly to your congregation about their views on the community’s most pressing needs and ways members can “Rethink Church” by getting involved.
Enthusiasm for “rethinking church” will result from thoughtfully cultivated conversation about how the effort is relevant to your congregation’s spiritual life. When people own an idea, they invest heart and effort in it. Spread ownership of “Rethink Church” across your pews.
Take the principles of “Rethink Church” – creating transformative action in your community – and make them unique and relevant to your congregation and community culture. Empower current and future leaders to adopt “Rethink Church." The congregation will most certainly follow.
Once you’ve cultivated conversation about “Rethink Church,” your members will understand what it is and will be enthusiastic about what it could mean for your congregation. Hopefully, they’ll be open to ideas and ready to answer God’s call to go into the community and spread the hope we know in Jesus Christ. It’s time to begin. Here are some things you can do to become actively involved in rethinking church.
•Update your Find-a-Church profile! More than 200,000 people view that Web site monthly, seeking a church. Maybe they’re looking for yours, so be sure your profile stays current.
• Invite a cross-section of volunteers in your congregation to collaborate and recommend a high-profile, congregation-wide, community-involvement project for ongoing ministry throughout 2010.
• Invite charitable organizations in your community to visit your congregation and make presentations about the community’s specific needs and volunteer opportunities.
• Capture the recommendation into a written two-page plan. Distribute to an appropriate working group or committee, or to the entire congregation, for input. Include a goal (e.g., 500 total volunteer hours)
• Emphasize getting your congregation’s young adults involved in the idea-generation and project-planning process.
• Invite the un-churched in your community to join your congregation in its volunteer project. Provide opportunities for their input and leadership.
• Facilitate role-playing exercises about how to welcome the un-churched, both inside the church and during outside volunteer activities.
• Urge members to conduct all personal community volunteer opportunities not as individuals, but as members of The United Methodist Church.
These are only a few suggestions for getting involved. Each community is unique, and the Rethink Church campaign encourages churches to creatively reach out to their seeker community's particular needs and interests. Take a look at some examples of how other congregations have become involved in rethinking church.