Nothing is so enlivening of a local church than direct involvement in a mission program that matters.
This past Sunday evening I attended a meeting where one of our small congregations was working out the arrangements for a yoked relationship with a nearby congregation of a different denomination. I asked the folk from the other church about their church’s greatest strength. They didn’t tell me how friendly they are (which is the usual answer when I ask about a church’s greatest asset)…they told me about a hands-on project that benefits school children in their own community and well beyond. Their excitement and pride was palpable! I was delighted that our UCC church might get involved with that sort of missional energy.
Many of our own churches are also involved in real mission projects about which the members are excited and of which they speak with pride. But many are not. It doesn’t matter how “friendly” your church is – if a church isn’t involved in something that matters to people who aren’t yet part of your church, you aren’t likely to be attractive to newcomers. We live in busy times, and folk aren’t likely to join a church unless they perceive that the church is engaged in something that matters.
Engagement in work that matters can take many shapes and forms. It comes in many sizes and colors. It might be a project with school children. It might be recurring mission trips in which a partnership of mutual learning and assistance develops. It might be meaningful work with older people who face a variety of needs.
Here in the Iowa Conference we have been offered an opportunity to invest mission dollars in a creative project of relevance and creativity – a new church start in Coralville. Journey Church is being birthed as a joint project between the conference and the organizing pastor who came to us with passion to start a church unlike any other already existing in the conference. The Board of Directors has invested funds in the start-up of Journey Church, but those funds are limited and do not foster a relationship between the existing churches of the conference and Journey Church. More support is needed. YOUR support is needed!
Your church might invest in Journey Church – and do so in a way that builds relationship. If that were to happen it would be good for Journey Church….AND for your church.
You will shortly receive a solicitation for financial support of and relationship with Journey Church. I’d challenge your congregation to consider carefully whether this might be a mission relationship that would build excitement and meaning in your congregation. This invitation to funding (and more!) comes with the encouragement and blessing of the conference.
Think about it….pray about it….and then act.
Iowa Conference Minister
United Church of Christ