What is the most important thing to you about Oberlin United Methodist Church?”
What does it mean for churches to be like a family? Families are, by their very nature, concerned primarily about the individual family members and their unity as a family. People usually mean intimacy, affirmation, and stability. We all want to meet these needs through communities of faith.
When congregations begin to worship together like a family, newcomers may feel like a stranger eavesdropping on supper. No matter how much we try to treat the newcomer as an invited guest, they are left out by the history, private stories, shortcut reminders of the past, and a degree of intimacy that could be invasive to a newcomer. To a stranger, the history, private stories, and shortcuts accentuate their ‘not belonging.’ When we pair this with the inward focus of family worship, where the needs of the family members take precedence over the needs of the outside world, then most visitors will be onlookers, not at all caught up in the Spirit as we had hoped.
Public, corporate worship should be outwardly directed, first toward God and then to the world outside our doors: a world broken, hurting, and desperately in need of healing. It is a world that needs Christ, and public worship is one primary way we can offer Christ today.
The needs of individual members matter but should do not take precedence over the mission and the purpose of the church. Small group ministries, Bible study classes, and interest-based activities are so important. In these smaller settings designed for community and discipleship, family-style relationships are formed and deepened.
With all those words on paper, what are your thoughts?
I invite each of you to share your thoughts individually with me as we plan ministry and worship, and strive to “be and do church” in Oberlin for the remainder of 2019 and into 2020.
Grace and Peace,