Last week, On the Corner:), a new word was thrown out, "attractional". Dr. Elaine Heath has described the "Church" very well, especially the past 150 years. It's been very inward. She believes the "Church" of tomorrow will look more like the church in the first century, small missional communities, living by a way of life. Hold that phrase. We will come back to that.
She believes that the "big" churches will be less "program" oriented and much more missional, directly involved in people's lives. Actually, that's happening already up the road from us, Central UMC. Wiggins UMC closed; Central took it on as a satellite campus. Now it is Genesis Church, a Central United Methodist Community. It is located in south Fayetteville; this community will be very missional; it will function as a mission outpost with the people and the resources of Central behind it.
This model is being replicated all over the country. Another model is what we are developing right here at Trinity UMC. As I quoted Dr. Heath in the last letter I wrote to you, she said there is nothing wrong with "attractional church" if we are attracting people to Jesus, not just a building or more church programs. It can be both/ and.
Alexander Ross, who has been faithful to Christ, us, and believes the world is his parish has been among us for over four years. He, some church leaders, and I have had many conversations and much prayer about a missional "intentional" community on the grounds of Trinity UMC.
This is exciting! Recently, the Vision Team, the governing board of this Christian community, has given its full support and prayers. We will be the anchor church for the first New Monastic Mainline Community in the United Methodist Church in Arkansas.
This year will be the pilot year for this new missional community. At the end of the year we will evaluate the ministry in the Parish House and beyond. The process will start soon. We will invite everyone who will come and invest in one of Dr. Heath’s books, Longing for Spring. This will be a six week study. At the end of the six week study and prayer; we will create a Lead Team that will have 5-7 people who will be an extension and support for this intentional community. Decisions will be made together by the Lead Team and the people living in community in the Parish House on Garland.
Within the house itself, Alexander Ross and two other guys will live in Christian community together. These guys will hold prayer, eat meals together, and reach out to our neighborhood in new and exciting ways. People, especially in the neighborhood, will be invited to meals, prayer, and even worship. Also, these guys will have cleaning responsibilities in and outside the church building. They will also get others in the congregation to help them in stewardship of the building and grounds.
The way of life that I alluded to earlier is just an extension of the prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. The Lead Team, that means those who live in the house and those who don’t live in the house, will give deeper attention on a weekly basis to growing in this way of life. This community has the potential to be transformative for us and our neighborhood. This is just the beginning. There will be a lot more opportunities to learn more about this exciting ministry among us! Hope all can come to Longing for Spring! We will announce the time and place vey soon!
As we enter the weekend and pray for our time together for worship, I have some final thoughts that are meaningful and soon to come to the corner of Sycamore and Garland. These thoughts come from Dr. Heath’s book, Missional, Monastic, Mainline :
“One of the best gifts of healthy new monastic and missional communities is their ability to serve as a leavening agent in the anchor church. As persons living and
serving in a missional community include members of the anchor church in community meals, prayer, and outreach in the neighborhood, the anchor church’s understanding of discipleship deepens, and many others begin to live a more committed, vital spiritual life in their own homes and neighborhoods. A wonderful gift of the anchor church to the missional community is just that- an ANCHOR of stability, love, prayer, and encouragement to its own missionaries (Heath 97).
Have fun and see you in worship! Peace