This morning, in north central Penna we woke to a late spring frost - to be expected because I planted flowers yesterday on my sabbath. This frost is almost like bringing on a rain/dust storm the day after your car is washed. My hope is that no one blames me for the frost. Our spring is awesome - outside: birds chirp, hummingbirds drink and amuse, deer wander through and amaze me; inside, the cats purr.
Sunday evening a friend told me that I must be energized and enthused about the day (actually, she said I must feel wonderful about the day). This is what Sunday was like. First, before worship, our adult class discussed the beginning chapters of Jim and Casper Go To Church - an atheist and a pentecostal go to church together and talk about what is good and not so good. The book is their journey through ten churches. It is interesting and relevant to me, a church planter. I want my congregation to consider the goods and bads and see what they think they are or can become.
Second, at worship we prayed about how our church would be known as "Christian" on the outside looking in. After worship we discussed four suggestions that would show how we are Jesus-people to others in the community. The four suggestions submitted by the congregation were: start a diaper ministry; begin some school program; look into how we can help families in subsidized housing; serve a meal at the end of the month to people whose money runs out before month or who need to be around others in a community that cares. We chose the latter. To me, the best part of the discussion and decision was the sparkling eyes and enthusiasm of this group who six months ago thought they were going down a road to death. There are logistics (NO means testing, NO committees, please) to iron out, but we will serve our first meal on the fourth Sunday of June.
Third, in the afternoon, nine of us gathered to talk about the new church - how it fits into two denominations, what each denomination stands for (the United Church of Christ is the new part of church here) and to understand next steps. The discussion was excellent - thoughtful and frank. For me, what stood out was the first time visitor, a 21-year-old man, who asked when he could come be part of this church and discussions like these again. He asked if he came to our building on Sunday morning, would he be able to worship (YES) and if he came to Wednesday Theology for Supper, would our conversation be stimulating (YES). There is an interesting side bar to his participation: He has attended Quaker meeting sporadically for years - the Quaker meeting he attends meets in our building at the same time we do on Sunday morning. Sometimes we miss telling those closest to home about this new church.
Planting a new church - one that seeks to offer a different version of Christianity to those turned off by God-as-judge and routine preachy sermons - takes me in lots of directions. I strive for a day when sermons are mere suggestions that launch us into congregational discussions. This church already has thinking folk - they just don't always get to express those thoughts with others.
There are lots of blogs to read - does this one offer something to bring you here? I invite your comments. Should I write more challenging comments (I could); or are my muses sufficient?