|by Rev. N. Adiel A. DePano, |
lead pastor FUMC Pasaden
What if Church was less about Sunday and more about the other days of the week?
What if Church wasn’t just a place we go but something we do, a menu of adventure, an active verb instead of a noun?
What if Church wasn’t just a building but thousands of doors, each of them opening up to a different concept or experience of Church so that whoever knocks might find a journey to call their own?
What if Church was the way Church was in the beginning – outbound, unbound, active; human beings from completely different worlds united by a common purpose, experience, and belief, creating real solutions for their daily lives?
What if Church looked at itself with seekers’ eyes, recognizing that even the smallest step through one of our doors is an act of courage, a moment of vulnerability?
What if we rethink Church not in terms of what it is but what it could be?
And what if we can convince the world to do the same?
These probing questions are from a Rethink Church video produced by United Methodist Communications (you can see the video at the bottom of this page). They are relevant questions for us at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena. In the almost two months I’ve been among you I sense an anxiety over the church’s present and future. There is concern over declining membership and finances. There are questions as to how the church might arrest the decline and return to vitality.
Many of you who call FUMC of Pasadena home have a memory of when the church was vital, stories of exceptional moments of health, excellence, and energy. It is important that stories of vital ministry be told and retold not for the purpose of returning to a bygone era but to get hold of what makes for vital ministry and build on those stories and current capabilities.
Could we engage in a process of identifying the best of what is to form the basis of dreaming the possibilities of what could be? Can our conversations around the table, in our small groups, at home and/or at work be about the strengths, passions and life-giving forces that are within our church family which may hold potential for inspired, positive change? What are these good news stories that enhance our cultural identity, spirit, and vision? Can we together be selectively attentive to and affirming of the best and highest qualities of First United Methodist Church of Pasadena (that’s you and me and what we’ve done in mission and ministry throughout the years)?
What will Church look like in 80 years? was the focal question of a new General Board of Discipleship video series titled Dreaming of Vital Congregations. Those interviewed voiced the following thoughts:
- The model of church will be around networking and community; discipling people, sending them in mission, and holding them accountable.
- The challenge before the Church is making a case for why Jesus, why Wesleyan theology, why the Methodist movement?
- The United Methodist Church of the future will be more about the Wesleyan model of the small group; fewer brick and mortar churches and more house churches; a proliferation of family churches, churches that are not contained to buildings.
- A vital church has a rich prayer life.
- The option of not changing because we fear failure is crazy!
- The vital church of tomorrow is committed to be strong partners with other groups/churches where discipleship is happening in a very powerful way.
First United Methodist Church of Pasadena is a living organism, it’s a living body. It is evolving. The question is - is it evolving for the better or worse? The Lord Jesus says,
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me.Can we all try to envision what could be by identifying the best of what is? How might God be calling us to stay joined to Jesus and anticipate producing lots of fruit? How might we be guilty of going at it on our own?
-John 15:5, CEV
Can we all commit to rethink Church together and be expectantly open to be surprised by God on what FUMC of Pasadena could be 5-10 years from now?