GBOD GRANTS

Grants for Ministries with Young People –2015 Grant Recipients

Young People’s Action for Socio-Economic Justice and Sustainable Development (Cotabato Province, Philippines) –Received GMYP grant for $10,200

Through a series of seminars, skills trainings, and programs, along with some financial assistance, the young people involved in this project are becoming empowered and equipped to overcome socio-economic injustices and working for personal, family and community transformation. Ana Loreen B. Porperio, a beneficiary of the project, says this: “My participation in this project…helped me to understand that the church is not only worship, Bible study and prayer meetings. It helps the poor and needy, like me and my family, to have more income for our needs. I thank God for this church.”

2016 Grants for Ministries with Young People Recommendations for Funding

National Youth Conference–Manila, Philippines [Philippines Central Conference]
Total Awarded: $2,500

This 4-day conference gathers youth leaders from all over the Philippines to share experiences, contribute new ideas and build relationships in order to better know Christ and make Christ known. The event has a track record of producing equipped and empowered leaders in the Church, and provides young leaders with opportunities to engage in different ministries of the church to explore their calling into ministry

OXY-GEN–Quezon City, Philippines [Philippines Central Conference]
Total Awarded:$5,000

This project aims to develop and sustain the music and dance ministry at the Good Samaritan United Methodist Church. This will be accomplished through purchasing quality instruments to create Praise and Worship Teams and receiving proper training from Christian musicians; they will also establish dance groups that will learn and perform many different kinds of dance forms in order to joyfully express their faith in the Lord.

Wildflame Campus Ministry–Bulacan, Philippines [Philippines Central Conference]
Total Awarded: $2,500

This campus ministry teaches youth to discern their unique call to live a meaningful life and to act with justice and fairness toward all people. The ministry produces young leaders by providing trainings and lectures to enlighten their minds and hearts, and strives to develop other
ministry aspects, like Praise and Worship, Children’s Ministry, Preaching, Dance and Small Group Ministry, to instill a love for the mission of the church and
show other ways young people can serve God.

2016 Youth Service Fund Recommendations for Funding

*Young People’s Faith-Sharing & Acts of Compassion Program –Catabato, Philippines
Total Awarded: $2,325

This project will help the young people of St. Michael United Methodist to witness and serve those in need in the Manubuan Village. They will be trained to share their faith, visit sick and shut-ins, help elderly and shut-ins with household chores, do vegetable gardening for the needy, prepare food for small children, encourage the community to resist drugs and alcohol, and be in ministry with prisoners in the municipal jail.

Global Scholarship Recommendations for 2015 -2016

Alfie Jann Loberiano Tangunan III -$1,575
Philippines, 21, Accounting

Michael Blanca Khemlani -$1,900
Philippines, 19, Information Technology

Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment

An Outcry Against Hatred and Hate Crimes and a Commitment to Prophetic Love

An Outcry Against Hatred and Hate Crimes and a Commitment to Prophetic Love

Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those
who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.1 John 4:20

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
Proverbs 10:12

In light of continuing acts of violence, destruction, and murder based upon hatred, racism, fear, bigotry and prejudice:

We recommit ourselves to the life to which our church’s baptismal liturgy calls us—a life in which we “renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness…reject the evil powers of this world…and accept the freedom and power God gives [us] to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”

We stand united in our conviction that all human beings are of sacred worth, beloved by God and created in the Divine Image
.
We therefore denounce all hate crimes committed against women, men, youth, and children of all our racial or ethnic identities.

We deplore the evil of racism and its continued expression in the hearts and institutions of our culture. We therefore repudiate all forms of violence and mistreatment that are fueled by racist hatred and toxic bigotry.

We affirm that all are precious to God, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We therefore decry all crimes and violence against people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer.

We maintain that justice must be pursued with both integrity and equity. We therefore denounce police brutality in any form. We also denounce the unjust targeting of law enforcement officers.

We deplore all acts of terrorism, whether foreign or domestic and all forms of social injustice, systemic discrimination, and dehumanizing oppression.

We reject and condemn all hate-fueled crimes of abuse and violence, believing that such crimes are an unacceptable assault on the sacredness of our shared existence.

We believe in the countercultural love and the transformational grace of Jesus Christ, in whom “there is no longer Jew or Greek…slave or free…male and female” (Galatians 3:28) We commit ourselves to building lives and communities in which love, justice, and mercy are as natural as breathing and every bit as urgent. We call for strategic partnerships and meaningful action plans that will lead humankind more deeply into God’s redemptive future.

We believe that God is relentlessly good; that God is far more devastated by our hatred and violence than we are; that God weeps and grieves over the unthinkable distortions of how God created things to be; and that God, even now, is redemptively and dynamically present in the brokenness, holding suffering souls in the quiet depths of the Divine Heart and ushering the church and world into a renewed commitment to justice, oneness, and agapic love.

We the church repent of the ways in which we have nurtured and reinforced hatred, both individually and communally, through our actions, our silence, and our toleration of distorted priorities. We call the church to a deeper and more holistic devotion to the way of Jesus, where grace transforms hatred into love, fractured relationship into reconciliation, and crippling fear into life-giving and world-shaping hope.

Prayerfully offered by the Board of Directors, GBOD

Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment

WHAT IS K TO 12 PROGRAM/

WHAT IS K TO 12 PROGRAM?

The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School [SHS]) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.

K to12-Basic-education

Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment

UNITED METHODIST MEN PHILIPPINES NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

THE UNITED METHODIST MEN PHILIPPINES NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
First UMC, City of Baguio, July 24-25, 2015

PROPOSED PROGRAMME

Day 1 July 24, 2015
3:00-4:00 pm Arrival and Registration
4:00-5:00 pm Opening Worship- Bishop Ciriaco Francisc0- DEA
5:00-6:00 pm Dinner
6:00-8:00 pm Welcome Night
8:00-10:00 pm Report:
1. MEA UMM President- Bro. Ricky Ravina
2. BEA UMM President- Bro. Dominador Peralta
3. DEA UMM President Bro. Abraham Castillo
10:00 pm Sleeping time

Day 2, July 25, 2015
5:00-6:00 am Wake Up Exercise
6:00-7:00 am Breakfast
7:00-8:00 am Morning Worship- Bishop Pedro Torio- BEA
8:00-9:00 am Report: UMMP President= Bro. Carlos M. Manio
9:00-10:00 am Ratification of Constitution and By-Laws
10:00-10:30 am Election
11:30-12:30pm Closing Worship, Bishop Rodolfo Juan- MEA
12:30 pm Lunch and Homeward Bound

Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment

A Response from Dallas Theological Seminary to Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

A Response from Dallas Theological Seminary to Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage
by Mark L. Bailey on June 26, 2015 in News
With the verdict of the Supreme Court today that legalizes same-sex marriage in the United States, we at Dallas Theological Seminary are grieved by this decision that seeks to legally yet wrongfully expand what God established from the beginning to be the divinely designed institution of marriage. We continue to support and adhere to a biblical view of marriage and sexuality because we believe such an approach to life and marriage honors God and makes for fulfillment in life the way God designed it.

In answering the questions of His disciples related to divorce, Jesus went back to creation to argue the original intent for marriage. Marriage was intended from the very beginning of creation to be the covenant union of a man and a woman in a permanent and exclusive relationship (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19: 4-9; Mark 10: 5-9). God’s design for this relationship was for the purposes of procreation, personal pleasure, and the fulfillment of the purposes of reflecting the image of the Creator and His desired relationship with His people (Genesis 1:27–28; 2:18–24; Ephesians 5:31–33). That image involves both male and female with marriage depicting their mutual cooperation in a designed diversity to steward God’s creation.

We believe God has also expressly reserved sexual intimacy and intercourse for heterosexual marriage (Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9). It is God’s expectation that the married live in faithfulness to their spouse and unmarried should live pure and celibate lives, refraining from sexual intimacy (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

The English translation of our historic Seminary motto from 2 Timothy 4:2 is “Preach the Word.” We intend to keep doing that and to equip others to do so as well. Our current slogan is taken from 1 Timothy 1:5 and that is “Teach Truth. Love Well.” As we approach a culture that does not share our biblical values or standards of conduct we still need to model love and pray for those with whom we disagree. This Jesus also taught (Matthew 5:44). As our culture begins to look more and more like that of the New Testament times, we need to remember and take heart that the message and mission of Jesus was birthed and flourished in such times. May God do it again in our lifetime.

Soberly and Prayerfully,

Dr. Mark L. Bailey
President

Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2015

Longmont, Colorado: In a church trial held Feb. 24 and 25 at Longs Peak United Methodist Church in Longmont, Colorado, the Reverend Filimone Havili Mone was found guilty of disobeying the order and discipline of the church. As part of the verdict, the jury voted unanimously to terminate Mone’s United Methodist membership in the Rocky Mountain Conference. Mone retains his ordination in the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

The verdict was delivered by a jury of 13 United Methodist clergy. Retired Bishop Alfred W. Gwinn Jr. presided over the trial.

“I will not stop praying for Rev. Mone and the Tongan United Methodist Church,” said Rev. Ron Hodges, counsel for the United Methodist Church. “I felt the case itself was clear and concise and the evidence before us was reliable and relevant.”

Rev. Keith Watson, counsel for Mone, said, “While the respondent and counsel team feel disappointment in the outcome, we commend the members of the jury for their careful, and probably painful, deliberations. I think that all in the court recognize the import of the decisions that have been made.”

Mone was formerly the pastor of Tongan United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2012, resident Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanovsky received concerns of suspected sexual abuse that occurred at Tongan UMC and had allegedly gone unreported by Mone. Following a supervisory review, at which time Mone was placed under suspension, it was found that he had failed to report the abuse to authorities in a timely manner in violation of church and state law. In 2013, Mone was tried in city court and negotiated a plea for failing to report abuse of a child, which is a misdemeanor. He was assigned and performed community service.

On Oct. 22, 2012, a just resolution agreement was negotiated and signed by Mone, Bishop Stanovsky and District Superintendent Sione Tukutau. Stanovsky lifted the suspension and dismissed the complaint against Mone after the agreement was reached. Mone did not return to Tongan UMC nor was assigned to a church, but continued on leave as a clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Conference.

“The jury’s decision recognizes Rev. Mone’s actions conflict with the values and practices of the United Methodist Church,” said Stanovsky. “We are sorry to lose this friend and colleague, who has served among us for many years, but know that God continues to work in this life.”

In a United Methodist church trial, an individual responds to a charge or charges of having violated denominational law, as set forth in the church’s Book of Discipline. A church trial is seen as a “last resort” after all other paths to resolve conflict has been exhausted.

#######

Contact information:

Charmaine Robledo

Director of Communications

Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church

303-325-7054 (office)

303-910-8268 (cell)

Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment

Discipleship Ministries

Feb 9 at 8:00 PM
Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment

An Open Letter to Other Christians: Let’s Show Muslims Some Love (COMMENTARY)

IMG_3025Dear fellow American Christians:

Each of us lives out our faith in a particular era, in a unique time and place. We encounter challenges which are specific to our context. Our calling as followers of Christ is to face these challenges with grace and love. We cannot avoid these confrontations; they are ours, and we must engage them. Furthermore, we must consider whether we have been placed here “for just such a time as this.”

In the year 2015 in Dallas, Texas, we find ourselves facing a challenge which I think most of us would rather not confront. In our day and time, there is significant persecution, opposition, and outright hatred, of Muslims and of the practice of Islam. This was on full display a few weeks ago in Garland, outside of a convention center where Muslims were gathering with the purpose of denouncing terrorism and hate, and instead were met with protestors demanding them to “go back home and take Obama with you.” Then again last week, on Texas Muslim Day in Austin, one angry protestor grabbed a microphone from a Muslim speaker and loudly proclaimed that “Islam will never dominate in the United States, and by the grace of God it will not dominate Texas!” Furthermore, that same day, Texas legislator Molly White instructed her aides to ask any Muslim visitors to her office to recite the pledge of allegiance before speaking with them.

Now, fellow Christians, let’s set aside the theological questions for the moment. Let’s not argue over whether Muslims are going to heaven or hell, whether Muhammad can be considered a prophet, or even the merits of Islam itself. I want us to instead focus on our own behavior, on our own treatment of the stranger.

The fact is that Muslims live in America, approximately 7 million of them, which accounts for just over 2% of the population. This is not an especially big number, as you can see. More importantly, however, these Muslims are Americans. They are citizens. They work in all the sorts of jobs that we work. They serve in the military, own small businesses, play professional sports, study in universities, and even hold political office. They are, you see, our neighbors. I don’t think I need to remind you what Jesus said about our neighbors.

The fact is that the one thing that might distinguish a Muslim from one of us is, obviously, her faith. We practice different religions. This means that we hold different conceptions about God, God’s interaction with the world, God’s revelation to humans, and the prophets or messengers chosen by God. We also may have differing views about proper behavior or lifestyle. The same is true, incidentally, for the followers of Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Wiccan, or atheism.

What is the proper way for us to interact with these practitioners of other religions? What does our religious tradition teach us to do?

Again, regardless of whether we think they are “wrong” or “right,” the fundamental baseline behavior that Jesus asks us to follow is neatly summed up in this way: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I guess that we would want the freedom to practice our religion and follow our God the way we feel called to do. I suppose that we also would not like to be criticized, yelled at, condemned, or persecuted.

Because you are my fellow Christians, I also want to propose that you consider the meaning of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:24-30. In this story, a farmer sows a field with wheat, but at night, an enemy comes and sows weeds alongside the wheat. As the plants begin to appear, it’s obvious that somebody has sabotaged the harvest. The farmer’s hired hands ask, “Should we go and pick the weeds and dispose of them?” The farmer replied, “No, because, while gathering the weeds, you might accidentally uproot some of the good wheat. Just let them both grow now until it is harvest time, and then I will have the reapers separate the weed from the wheat.”

I understand the point of this story to be very simple: it is not our place, nor is it the time, to be deciding who is in or who is out. It is not our role to judge who is right or who is wrong — that is clearly God’s task alone. Our job is not to identify the “infidels” and remove them from our sight. We’re likely to get that wrong anyway, and remove those who turn out to be God’s most faithful servants. This is a parable, primarily, about the patience and tolerance of God. We ought to be far more concerned about the question of whether our own lives are “wheat” or “weed.”

Finally, you may be concerned about the supposed link between Islam and terrorism. It is true that, at this moment in history, there are a number of terror groups that claim to be acting in the name of Islam, or in the interest of a unified Islamic state or “caliphate,” including Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram. At other periods in history, terror groups were linked to Christian churches or sects, such as the Ku Klux Klan, Serbian nationalists, and the IRA (Ireland). During these times, however, people did not question Christianity as being a violent religion, in and of itself. We must not allow ourselves to do the same with Islam.

Like Christianity, Islam is not monolithic. There is not only one head of Islam, no one person or one group which speaks for all of Islam. There is no one interpretation of the Koran which everyone subscribes to.

Like Christianity, Islam contains different “denominations” or expressions of faith, including Shia, Sunni, Sufi, and Ahmadiyya, to name a few. Each of these differ in doctrine, ritual, and behavior.

As with the Bible, the Koran can be read or interpreted selectively, to seem to imply that violence against unbelievers is encouraged. Before we rush to conclusions about what Muslims believe, however, we must come to terms with the violence contained in our own scriptures. Consider, for example, the 850 prophets of Baal and Ashram slaughtered by Elijah on Mount Carmel in I Kings 18:19-40, or the Lord’s command to Saul to attack the city of Amalek, sparing nobody, but “kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (I Samuel 15:2-3).

If nothing else, we must remain humble about our own faith and admit that violence has been done in the name of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, and in the name of the Christian church.

Islam springs from the same Biblical fountain as Judaism and Christianity, and is only a few hundred years younger than Christianity. For thirteen hundred years, it has functioned as a civilizing and healing force in many countries. It has a long history of scientific, mathematic, artistic, and spiritual achievement. In every sense of the words, it has been one of the world’s great religions.

Thus, we must recognize that the terror practiced by Islamic extremist groups is an anomaly in view of this long history. And it represents only the tiniest of fractions of actual, real-life, practicing Muslims worldwide.

Muslims are human, meaning that they suffer from the same temptations, tests, trials, and tendencies as we do. One should not be surprised that a large organization made up of humans suffers from divisions, strife, jealousies, and even hatred, which hardens and sometimes manifests as splinter groups which commit acts of terror. The same happens in Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Hindu temples. We are all subject to human passions and fears.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please listen to me: the time has come for us to stand up as people of one faith to defend people of another faith. In our day, the demand of the gospel is that we stand in solidarity with people for their right to follow their own conscience and practice their faith in freedom. It doesn’t matter whether we believe them to be right or wrong, Muslims deserve our support, as human beings, as neighbors, and particularly as people of faith. The time may come when we will need their support. Indeed, already in other places in the world, Muslims have been standing up to defend the rights of minority Christians in such places as Egypt, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

For the sake of Jesus, who extended fellowship to a Samaritan woman (considered a heretic by fellow Jews), as well as Gentile demoniacs, Roman centurions, and traitorous tax collectors, can we please, please, stop the anti-Islam madness?

Sincerely,
Rev. Wes Magruder

Wes Magruder is senior pastor of Kessler Park UMC; United Methodist pastor since 1996. Former missionary to Cameroon, West Africa. Founded Daraja, a ministry to resettled refugees in Dallas. Calls himself a “shalom activist.” Blogger, writer, speaker; loves Radiohead, U2, Wilco; has a beautiful wife and three lovely daughters!

Posted in DEA Reports | 1 Comment

The Problem with Drive-By Discipleship

Daniel Darling

2.3DRIVEBY

“Real discipleship happens off-screen, in private conversations, over a period of many years. It springs from natural friendships.”

A couple of weeks ago our small group studied the first few verses of Colossians 2. We are currently going, a few verses at a time, through this beautiful letter written by Paul and inspired by the Spirit of God. I was struck by the opening words of the second chapter:

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ. (Colossians 2:1-2 ESV)

At first glance, it seems Paul is either whining or bragging on himself. “I want you to know how much I struggle for you.” What does Paul mean here? As we studied this passage, it became that what Paul didn’t mean was, “C’mon guys, can’t you see how hard I’m working for you here? A little credit would be nice.”

No, not at all. What Paul is saying is something different and, sadly, a little foreign to the way we think of discipleship today. I think when most of us think of discipleship, we think of it in this process: first, evangelize; second, meet regularly and go through a curriculum for spiritual growth. Both of these things are important. Evangelism–actually opening our mouths and sharing the good news of what Christ has done–this is our mission. And systematic study is vital for the spiritual growth of new converts.

But if we look at what Paul is saying here, we find that discipleship is so much more than we think. Paul is communicating to these people how much he is invested in them, how much he is for them. Imagine, for a moment, how encouraging this must feel. Paul cared deeply for their spiritual lives. He loved them. He spent long nights praying and thinking of their spiritual welfare. This is what true brotherly love and discipleship look like.

I fear that much of our discipleship is didactic in nature. We’re trying to make a point. So we think that discipleship means writing another blog or sending another tweet to people we barely know. But real discipleship happens off-screen, in private conversations, over a period of many years. It springs from natural friendships.

Paul had earned the right to speak into the lives of the believers at Colossae. Not because he had a PhD from a seminary. Not because he was on the NYT bestsellers list. Not because he had 100K followers on Twitter. Those things can all be leveraged for influential good. But the real spiritual growth transfer happens in deep and caring relationships. This church and these people would listen to what Paul had to say because Paul had been invested deeply in their lives.

I wonder if we put enough premium on this kind of relationship today. It seems there is a lot of drive-by discipleship today. It’s so easy to think that because we’re posting pithy quotes online that we’re doing God’s work. It’s easy to think rebuke and discernment are at-replying a famous Christian on twitter with whom we disagree. But is this really how people grow?

Pastors and church leaders would do well to model Paul’s investment in their people. Pastors who deeply care for their people, who actually know them well, will see a much better response to their preaching. But pastors who are only present on Sunday to deliver content—God uses this preaching to change lives, but it won’t be as effective as faithful, person-to-person ministry over a long season.

Parents would also do well to model Paul’s life. Our kids have to know that we are for them. So when we discipline and rebuke, they know it’s out of love, not out of frustration or anger. Are we present with them?

Even when we write, email, tweet, text: Does the intended audience feel that we care about them? That we are invested in them? That even if we must sharply disagree, contend, proclaim—we’re doing it with a heart broken by love for the people God loves?

Or are we doing drive-by discipleship? This is a good question to ask ourselves.  

Daniel Darling Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC). For five years, Dan served as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of several books, including Teen People of the Bible, Crash Course, iFaith, Real, and his latest, Activist Faith. He and his wife Angela have four children and reside in the Nashville area.
Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment

5 things small churches can uniquely offer … right now

FromMinistryMatters
January 29th, 2015

Church leadership has long held a bent toward the “bigger is better” mantra of capitalistic America. We franchise new church plants. We structure our institutions to favor the larger churches. The United Methodist Church itself has long been geared toward starting pastors off in smaller churches to get their feet wet in leadership only to move them to bigger (and often higher paying) churches once they prove themselves as capable leaders.

The flip side of the “bigger is always better” way of viewing our churches is the reality that the vast majority of churches in America (and even around the world) are, in fact, small. Historically this has also been the case. Go back and read Paul’s letters to various churches. They weren’t worshipping 1,000+ on Sundays in a concert hall or amphitheater — they small, tightly-knit communities worshipping in homes.

Now I’m not a hater of the larger church — I’ve actually served in two different large, vibrant, downtown churches. I know the strength of larger churches from their ability to support more diverse ministry to the beauty of worshipping with a large, corporate body. But now that I’m serving a smaller church, I want to point out the unique beauty of small churches. Sometimes we need to be reminded that small churches are, in fact, beautiful and they should spend less time dealing with an inferiority complex because they aren’t as large as other churches.

Instead of trying to mimmick what the large churches in your area are doing (only to come up short of their quality because you don’t have the money or resources to duplicate it), here are five things I believe small churches can uniquely offer the world right where they are:

1. Intergenerational ministry. There is a difference between intergenerational and multigenerational forms of ministry. Just because you have people of different ages gathered in the same space for worship does NOT make it an intergenerational ministry opportunity. Crossing borders between generations takes real effort. And too often larger churches segregate people based on age and stage of life. The small church, however, can’t do that because it’s too small. So instead of bemoaning the fact that you don’t have a youth ministry with 100+ kids in it, think of ways you can put the five to 10 youth you do have in contact with people from a different generation.

Numerous statistical studies actually show that an important factor in youth remaining active in the church is the presence of a deep relationship with someone older than them who is not a member of their immediate family. Segregating children and youth into their own space in the life of the church runs the terrible risk of never allowing them to encounter and forge relationships with a diverse group of people. It also sends the subtle message that they are second-class members of your church when they are not primary in the corporate ministry life of the church. Small churches offer a rich and beautiful opportunity to forge these intergenerational relationships because, well, they have to. There aren’t enough people to segregate everyone into their own corners of the church. And thanks be to God for that!

2. Welcome special needs persons and families with special needs children. One of the quiet struggles churches often don’t recognize is how to incorporate persons with special needs into the life of the church. Small churches offer a unique opportunity to meet this need because they are small enough to warmly welcome and offer the individual attention a family who has a special needs child might need. It’s a daunting thing to take a child with special needs to church for fear of them standing out or somehow disturbing the flow of worship. It’s also very lonely for that child to get lost in the mix of a large, overwhelming children’s program. Small churches can offer love, hospitality and attention to make a family feel welcome. And the truth is, small churches can offer a worship experience that is vibrant but doesn’t necessarily have the overly-produced feel that worship in a larger church might have. This is actually very welcoming to a newcomer who might feel their presence would alter the flow of worship for others. In other words, special needs can be uniquely and lovingly met and welcomed in a small church.

3. More people can help lead worship. Since the small church is often less concerned with production led by professional worship leaders, it can incorporate more laity in the leading of worship. Remember: Nothing says the pastor is supposed to be the sole worship leader. Liturgy is the work of the people. And faithful worship incorporates the efforts of EVERYONE as together we offer ourselves to God in praise and thanksgiving. So find ways to let people pray, read Scripture, serve Communion, sing and maybe even occasionally preach in the small church. One thing we’re doing this coming year in the church I’m serving is we are shifting to laity being the primary servers of communion when we celebrate the sacrament. As pastor I will preside, but we’re asking laity to serve the elements. So we’ve had a sign-up to volunteer for this duty. Again, absolutely nothing says the pastor is supposed to be the primary server of the elements. Give people a chance to lead and serve more; you might be surprised how sharing in the work of worship might begin to transform people.

4. More focus on community outreach. While small churches might bemoan the loss of in-house programs as numbers decline, I say it’s a great blessing. Large churches have to expend a great deal of effort managing and sustaining programs that focus inwardly on the life of the membership. Lots of money is spent on resources of Sunday Schools, youth programs, children’s ministry, etc. It’s really a rat race — just ask any pastor or staff person at a larger church in their most honest moments. Small churches just don’t have the resources to keep up in that race. So why try? There’s a great freedom in not worrying with the inwardly focused programs. You can actually look outwardly on your community and focus time and attention there. How can you open your space to community groups? Can you invite support groups to meet in your building (especially if your small church occupies a large building)? Can you find ways to resource your local community? Can you partner with other small churches or local missional efforts? You see, small church ministry is just ripe for people to finally break out from the inward, program-focused mindset of church and direct their attention to where God is at work outside of the walls of the church more fully.

5. Offer a family feel to others. Look, families aren’t all warm and fuzzy. They have their dysfunction. And so does a small church because if often operates like a big, extended family. However through all of that dysfunction, one thing is (hopefully) certain: People know they are loved. As our world becomes more global, there is a rise to locally-focused relationships in business, commerce and relationships. The small church can offer something that might get lost in a large church where people don’t always know one another by name — you can actually be a part of a family. In our worst moments, that family feel leads us to gossip or insulation from others who aren’t a part of our family. In our best moments, it’s an expression of true love extended to anyone searching for a community who will love them enough to never let them go. Family is tough and it’s messy. But it’s also very beautiful. And so is small church ministry.

About the Author

Ben Gosden

Ben Gosden is Associate Pastor at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Macon, Ga.,
Posted in DEA Reports | Leave a comment