The Rethink Church campaign calls for a change in the denomination's "Open hearts" advertising and welcoming ministry. United Methodist Communications has initiated a conversation at all levels of the connection, designed to open a global dialogue about reaching spiritual seekers with the good news of Jesus Christ. It stems from one key question: "What if we Rethink Church?"
A large part of this initiative is the "program" element. Rethink Church calls us to use available resources. For example, the Find-A-Church tool gives churches an opportunity to reach out to seekers through the web. Welcoming resources are available to inspire program ideas and guide leaders through creating and implementing a church marketing plan. In addition, New church grants provide funding for local congregations to reach new audiences and build community relationships.
Though programming is important to the Rethink Church initiative, it is by no means a definition of Rethink Church. The "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors" message communicates that church is not just a place to go on Sunday alone, but a way of life. The goal is to engage people who currently have few, or no connections to the church, and lead them into a meaningful and relevant experience. Fulfilling this goal requires representing church as a verb – an active, joyful means of life in the fullest sense.
"Rethink Church" bears a dual message strategy for church outsiders and insiders alike. To our unchurched, young adult neighbors, it says, "Think about your spiritual journey and what church may have to offer you." To those already a part of the church, it says, "Think about what you have that young adults want." To reconcile these messages – and, perhaps, conflicting expectations – requires effort.
As you review materials and utilize resources found at shop.umc.org/rethink-church, Rethink Church will become uniquely nuanced to your congregation's context and culture. Many churches have been proactively using Rethink Church tools and living the campaign's motto. With guidance from the Holy Spirit and in partnership with the people of your community, you can similarly collaborate to "Rethink Church."
Thank you for partnering in this important journey of discovery/rediscovery. Please share insights and ministry plans derived from these conversations with the Rethink Church team at United Methodist Communications. We'd love to hear how God is at work in your community! Call 877-281-6535, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God be with you on the journey.