Methods by which a church reaches its community and engages in ministry and mission have changed rapidly over the last decades. For two centuries in the United States there were interlocking motivators to bring folks into churches. Primary among them was an increasingly "churched" society. And, among the denominational families, the Methodists were most closely identified with the growing sense of what it was to be part of an emerging American culture. Denominational identity was strengthened as the decades unfolded. Church buildings were the chief "advertising" for the congregation. Steeples and identifiable architecture drew folks to the building at the center of congregational life and 11 a.m. on Sunday was the designated time. Sunday was even preserved in many places as a church day and commerce was not "open for business."
The change has been rapid. Social supports and structures have shifted dramatically. First Church has made a formative effort to understand and engage the ever-changing landscape. I was impressed that we had secured the domain name of fumc.org! There has been great investment in the infrastructure for an online presence. Plans have been developed in recent years to expand our reach through a virtual church. As we continue to reach a wider geographical group of folks, it is important to utilize our online presence to provide educational opportunities, nurture "our diverse spiritual journeys" and expand the effectiveness of reaching the dynamic, growing populations in Dane County and beyond.
The ways in which new folks have found us are through our online presence and our downtown location. My great hope is that we will renew the plans that were made and fulfill the dream of more effectively engaging the dynamic and vital growth in Downtown, Madison and Dane County. We clearly have the vision and the plans. Your "Leaping Forward" financial commitments will help us fulfill them together!