I asked two questions at the 'Meet & Greets'. The first was "What brought you to First?" The second was "What is your hope for the future?" The answers to both seem to be matters of being vitally connected to the ministries and programs of the church. There is a strong commitment across the church that one of our strengths is to "live our faith!"
It is also clear that many of the programs and ways of connecting have been affected by the changing times. Some have flourished, many have not responded well to the dramatic shifts in the current climate within which the church is called to exist and live the good news. At present, our expressed hope is larger than our capacity to be engaged. The focus is on increasing our capacity to be engaged in vital and passion driven ministry!
My sense is the key to engagement is having connections that match our passions and commitments with the appropriate ministries of the church (or to develop ministries that express emerging commitments). The methods of connection need to be brought up to our current experience. We have a wonderful staff and committed lay leadership, but the catalyst of connection needs to be strengthened in the focused work of a staff/lay partnership.
We are in a time of seismic change in the culture. Organizations can no longer build structures and recruit folks for the "jobs." The ways in which contemporary organizations grow are more centered on relationships, common commitments, response to felt needs and the nimble capacity to do ministry. It is a cultural shift that I sense we have already begun to embark upon. But, this shift is in a fragile place and requires our attention. It is clearly people-centered as we seek to respond to the ministry God has called us to fulfill. Our fall stewardship appeal seeks to fund an expanded capacity to be engaged and connected in the ministry we share through First United Methodist Church!