Don't forget the small rural churchesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread
I had an exciting conversation yesterday with the Dean of the Board of Examiners for the Pacific Northwest conference. Our conference is the largest conference in the US I am told. We are in Montana, Washington and Alaska. That is a lot of territory. Our Dean was commenting on the exciting things happening in rural areas, my church, church growth in alaska and other rural areas in our conference. Have you noticed an excitment and or growth in rural churches or small churches in your area? Let's not forget the small churches that are also doing exciting ministries. I know in my area because there is no union for cemetary workers, often times I have had to lower caskets, shovel the dirt, and whatever else has to be done in rural ministry. My seminary; Princeton Seminary and I have a running joke. They did not teach me how to ride a horse or to white water raft. And as part of my ministry in Montana I have done both. If any of you get assigned to a small church. Let me say it is some of the most exciting ministry you will ever do. Getting to know members one on one and helping them grow in Christ. Wow!! That is the reward. If you are a member of a church with less than 100 people please share your experiences. Love to all of you, and know that God loves you so much!
-- Anonymous, May 16, 2001
This sunday May 20th my sermon title is "Jesus and his twelve member church!" I want my congregation to think about what the definition of a church is. And that every large church began as a small one. Jesus and his disciples worshiped God, prayed together and went out to the community. These acts were indeed the precursor for house churches in the first century. What are your thoughts about having a intimate worship style? Testimonies etc.
-- Anonymous, May 18, 2001
I think this is an excellent idea. I often use it at my own church (which by the way is a small one) when we are talking about growth and evangelism. The twelve of course represent the New Israel, that is to say, the twelve tribes under the New Covenant. It does not however end there. In Jesus' own three short years of ministry it was increased ten-fold. For, we read on the Day of Pentecost there were one hundred-twenty.
In the Revelation of John, he saw the twelve increased by twelve thousand, that is to say, one hundred forty four thousand. But the paradigm continued and John saw the church increase beyond all human ability to number it. This figure, of course, includes each of us.
Finally, I see both the Parable of the Talents and it's parallel, the Parable of the Pounds, as our Commandment from the Lord to build His Church and to spread His Gospel throughout the world, each according to his/her own ability to do so. This should alway include our exhibiting the properties of salt, which preserves and prevents spoiling and the properties of light, which dispels darkness and points the way. For, every time each member reaches one other person, we have doubled our ranks. And yes, the intimacy, love, sharing and caring of one-on-one makes it happen. As in last Sunday's Gospel Reading, "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love. " I love your theme of the "Twelve Member Church. "
-- Anonymous, May 18, 2001
A followup to that might be "Your Condition is Not Your Conclusion." BRo. Matthews' biblical examples of growth are also matched in real- world conditions:
- When then-pastor John R. Bryant came to St. Paul Cambridge, he found 20 sitting in the pews (200 on roll). When he left this weekends 26 years ago (and fve years later) over 1000 were attending regularly.
- When pasor Grainger Browning first took the beautiful charge of Ebenezer, FDt. Washington, he found 17. There was no heat in thae parsonage, and he would sometimes sleep in the church, coevred with newspapers. Today as the alrgest church in the connection its membership is well over 12,000.
- When Pastor Brenda Payne started Clear Lake 9 years ago, there were 13 of us in attendance. At its peak in 1999 the membership reached 141.
Growth is certainly very important from the sense that the Lord is not willing that any should perish. But quality of ministry is even more important. Whatg excites us here in
AME Today is the quality of your ministry - based on love, caring. These are the things that we believe delight the Lord we serve.
-- Anonymous, May 19, 2001
Brother Robert and Brother Payne thank you for finishing my sermon!:-) My backgroud as a jazz singer helps me so much as a minister. For a good jazz singer learns the melody first, inside and out. So that as you are performing impovisations to the music you can and should land back at the melody of the song. As my church grows I want them to know "the melody of Jesus" that is to learn his principles of love, inclusivity, justice, spiritual growth. service to others and to ALWAYS be theocentric (turning to God and only God, for Jesus came to point the way back to God). Planting a new church as Rev. Brenda Payne and Brother Jerryl knows, can and should be an opportunity for Pastors and laity to receive incredible spiritual growth in a short amount of time. I have a system of self-evaluation that I use for myself as a pastor. If I am exhausted from doing church work. Then I am not doing God's work. Let me explain and again this is MY system of self evaluation. I have found that when I am planning church activities, potlucks, bible studies, seminars, etc. and I am exhausted, it is because I have not asked God if this is his plan. In the past I have felt overwhelmed and spending a lot of time doing everything. God does not want his ministers EXHAUSTED! We can not do quality ministry if we are. God is always raising up leaders in the congregation. And I continue to learn to avail myself of these leaders as I train them. I have a ministerial staff of three all volunteers. Why do I have that many? Because our church is six months old and it is not going to always be a small church. And it is important to have the foundation in place. I firmly believe that God has a plan for all of his churches no matter what the size. And I hope that we as AME's will love and support one another no matter whether we are a mega church or small church. I also feel the Holy Spirit is calling the AME church to a more prominent leadership role in the world in terms of healthy church models. Just look at our wonderful and talented Bishops that God has called for a time such as this! My sisters and brothers in Christ, be bold, be courageous and step out on faith, knowing that as sons and daughters of Richard Allen "God ain't finished with us yet!" And as a unified church with Jesus as our lord and savior God can use us for a "Revival in membership in all churches"
-- Anonymous, May 19, 2001