Friday, January 11, 2008

I Refuse To Lead A Dying Church

January 11, 2008
Choosing Community over Isolation - Chapter 2

Every day when I pull into the church parking lot and make my way in to the building, I wonder, sometimes outloud, how we will ever reach the community that is right around us? Within walking distance to our church are many, many children and families of all kinds that are without a church and have needs that we would be able to meet if we had the courage to go out and meet them.

The second chapter of the book talks about Choosing Community Over Isolation. We have a huge, wonderful, old, in need of some repairs and updated building. It has served its purpose extremely well over the last 50 plus years. But I sometimes think, as the chapter says, that our building is a fortress. We keep the doors locked 99 percent of the time, our signs in our building to direct people are non-existent, and often our ministry is for US and not those who are living close to us.

The question before us is: Are we willing to choose our community over the isolation of what we call "The Oasis on West Elm United Church of Christ.

We are taking our first ever Misson Trip this summer to Applachia. The commitment that 17 people made to go on this trip will spur us to think about mission right around our fortress. In mid February we will receive a notebook with study materials, a bible study, and a plan and commitment to reach out around us.

In March we will be hosting our first families from "Family Promise". These families will sleep in our church and use our facility for a week at a time. This will stretch us and challenge us to share our building and our resources to the limit. I am praying we will have the courage to open our building to others.

On Ash Wednesday I will be offering "Drive-By Ashes" from our parking spaces on Elm Street. People can drive by, receive ashes on their forehead and get a cup of coffee. I am going to take the opportunity to show people that our church is alive and well and that we have life to offer. If you would like to join me, let me know.

Choosing Community over Isolation is a key for our life together.

What are you willing to do to reach out to our community around us? Or should we just board up the doors and do something else?


Anonymous said...

I for one am very excited about the upcoming Mission Trip - and the opportunities to use what we learn to help strengthen our community around the Oasis. We are a diverse group of individuals with a love of God, and a desire to spread that love - we just need to open our hearts, and let the spirit flow.

The last 2 sentences of your message is very powerful, and one we should all take a moment and pray about.

Have a great day, and continue the journey.


Anonymous said...

I am also very excited about our mission trip and very aware of the challenges and rewareds ahead. I look foward to experiencing Christ outside of the Oasis with those I hold dear. I am also glad that we could bring back great ideas from the conference and that we are moving full speed ahead with some of them. Keep up the good work pastor.


Anonymous said...

I'll be praying for the mission trip and also for Family Promise...good new projects for our church to be involved. have questions about particulars on "drive by ashes"....will you say something to those participating about reason behind them....interested in "how to".carol

Jim Oates said...

Hi Carol,

In trying to answer your question about the "Drive-By Ashes". In place of a normal service here at our church, I am going to post some signs, put an advertisement in the paper and get a picture taking of it happening. Folks will simply pull up in the parking area off of Elm Street, stay in their car and I will offer them the imposition of Ashes. We are also going to offer hot coffee to them as well. Unless it is bitter cold or storming, I will be out there for a few hours. So, rather than coming in the church. I will be going to where people drive by. It does not take the place of a service, but is another way to be visible in the community and let folks know there is something happening here. It is an innovative and new way to do outreach. The reason to do it this way is simply to reach people where they are.

I am not sure if that answers your questions or not. If not, let me know and I can try to be more specific. I have not done this before, it is an idea I read about at a conference.

Pastor Jim

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