Thursday, August 09, 2007

The church has left the building: Small Groups and Leaving the Building.

Today’s Dahlia: Ala Mode.

Faith in Action (FIA) is a joint project between World Vision, Outreach and Zondervan. FIA is a four week, church-wide campaign to help the church focus on mission/ministry outside the walls of the church. Today I am going to talk about small groups and leaving the building.

Small Groups: Small group are a key component for FIA. The groups will help energize the participants, provide a biblical foundation for outreach and help people to form stronger bonds with those they worship with. I would love to see 80% of our worshipping congregation be a part of the small groups. An additional benefit is that some of the small groups may decide to continue meeting at the conclusion of the FIA campaign.

Leaving the building: Our churches have become like fortresses of the Middle Ages. People rush into the fortress for safety/protection. Just think for a moment… the vast majority of Presbyterians are over the age of 65 (quite possibly 75, if one judges by the age of those attending Presbytery meetings). The world we live in today barely resembles the world they grew up in—everything has changed. A recent presidential debate was held on YouTube—most of our church members have never ever heard of YouTube. A family member is serving as a “missionary” in a country where missionaries are not allowed and we communicate with this person using Skype and an encrypted e-mail service (that I will not name for security purposes)—most Presbyterians have never heard of Skype or encrypted e-mail. Heck, most Presbyterians wouldn’t know what a blog is if it came up and looked them in the face! Cars are analyzed with computers at the repair shop. Then there is the telephone directory—I have used the phone directory twice in the past two years (I use the internet). The world has changed.

Our older folks come to church for a lot of reasons: to worship their Lord, to grow in their faith, to be with friends and to be in a safe and comfortable environment. Things in the church change much slower than things outside the church. The result is that our churches have developed an inward focus.

FIA is one way for the church to leave the building! The church cancels worship on the fourth Sunday of the FAI campaign to serve the local community and missions around the world. Our mission team will be identifying two or three projects that we will work on on that Sunday. We will advertise in the local papers that visitors should not come to our church that day because we will be out working in the community. We will send out several thousand post cards to Graham, Washington, residents with the same message. FIA Sunday will help our church family leave the building and it will send a message to the community that we care about our community and world. The “church” gets so much bad press these days; it will be wonderful for the church to get some good press for a change.


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