One of my favorite authors, Erwin McManus writes, “Many of us love religion all too much and God all to little. We love ourselves too much and the world too little.” The world around St. Paul is changing and we have to decide whether we love the world that Jesus died for or the religion we have built for ourselves.
The world around St. Paul is changing. Currently only 15% of adults aged 30-40 attend worship on any given Sunday. Only 4% of adults in their twenties attend worship regularly. That indicates that 96% of young adults, and 85% of those under forty do not consider the church a viable place to experience God and practice their faith. Does that imply that they are unconcerned with issues of faith? No, it indicates that they have found the church irrelevant and out of touch. They read about Jesus who fed the hungry, cured the sick, and loved unconditionally and do not see the same practices by those who claim to bear His name. Within two years five to eight thousand people will pass our facilities every day. With the opening of the new high school in 2012, St. Paul United Methodist Church will have to continue to make key strategy decisions to position itself to reach the community that it is called to serve. If the above data holds true, nearly every student, and most of the staff and faculty, from the new high school that pass this corner will not have made significant faith decisions or have any relationship with a faith community. The largest mission field in this area will be right on that corner. The world is changing, and if we are going to connect God-seeking people to Christ, Christian community, and to divine calling, we must be willing to change as well.
The world around St. Paul is changing. We are raising children who have absolutely no contact with the gospel or the church. We are raising children who, not only never darken the door of a church, they do not even have a door of their own. In our own community there are 490 children, according to the Nash-Rocky Mount School system, from 270 families that are homeless. They have no permanent address, no place to call home, no bed to call their own. Nearly one percent of our population within five miles is comprised of homeless children. The most important mission field in this area is right down the street. The world is changing, and if we are going to change the lives of these children we must be willing to change as well.
The world around St. Paul is changing. There was a time when we could open our doors, ring our church bell, put out a sign and expect people to come to us. The church was based upon the idea that if we did what we do well enough, if our building is pretty enough, and our preacher was smart enough, then of course people will come to us. Those days are over. During the past month, as we have looked at the ministry of Jesus in the book of John, it has become clear that Jesus encountered people in the streets more often than in the synagogue. He met them at the well, in the fields, and in their homes. He accepted them where they were and did not expect them to change to be healed, but provided healing and then they sought to change. We appreciate the amazing sacrifice of those who have gone before us to provide a place for worship and study, but we also realize that most ministries must move beyond the walls of this facility. The church must gather for worship, and then be sent into the world to serve. The world is changing, and if we are going to continue to be the church God has called us to be we must move beyond these white brick walls and into the streets, schools, and sidewalks of our city.
The world around St. Paul is changing, and as we move into the future it is apparent that every ministry must focus, with laser intensity, upon one of the three areas of our mission. The three areas of our mission require that every ministry of St. Paul United Methodist Church either connect God-seeking people to Christ, connect them to Christian community, or connect them to their divine callings. To connect God-seeking people to Christ we will create innovative, practical, arts rich worship experiences inside and outside of our walls. To connect people to Christian community, we will create ministries and systems that foster a sense of belonging to the body of Christ and to St. Paul United Methodist Church and engage them in active spiritual formation. To connect people to their divine calling ministries will be designed to provide them with opportunities to discover their God-given ministry within the body of Christ and their place of mission around the corner and around the world. Anything that is outside of these three areas of our mission will have to be eliminated as distractions.
St. Paul United Methodist Church strives to be a unique place where anyone can connect or reconnect to Christ, to Community, and to Divine Calling.
St. Paul United Methodist Church is a place of worship, spiritual formation, missional action, and leadership development designed to equip, encourage, and empower spiritual seekers and believers.
At St. Paul United Methodist Church we have five core values that we try to live into as a God-seeking community. We strive to be accepting, committed, growing, loving, and serving.
§ Adult Spiritual Formation
§ Children and Youth Ministries
§ Missional Action
Our Focus Goals for 2010-2011
· Equip, encourage and empower the WOW! Team to design and create innovative, practical, and arts rich worship experiences that will engage God-seeking people and growing disciples.
· Implement worship experiences both inside and outside of our walls to connect God-seeking people to Christ.
· Increase average worship attendance over the next twelve months by 12% to 181.
· To have five Sundays over the next twelve months with over 200 in worship.
Adult Spiritual Formation:
· Equip, encourage, and empower the Connection Group Leaders to facilitate ongoing connection groups as places where adult seekers and believers gather in Christian community to hold each other up to a higher level, hold each other together when life falls apart, and hold each other accountable to be the person that God has called them to be.
· Equip, encourage, and empower the Sunday School Leaders to facilitate ongoing classes as places where adult believers study scripture to connect to Christ while connecting in Christian community.
· By the end of the next twelve month period we will have at least 100 adults actively participating in spiritual formation including connection groups, Sunday school, special opportunities, and leadership development.
· By the end of the next twelve month period we will have at least 100 disciples who will be able to identify their divine callings and explain how they live them out through the ministry of St. Paul.
Children and Youth Ministries:
· Equip, encourage and empower the Children’s Ministry Team to create environments that guide children ages (P-5) to make beginning spiritual connections and empower parents to be their child’s primary spiritual mentor.
· By the end of the next twelve month period we will have served at least fifty families with school aged children through Hive Time, Vacation Bible School, and other special opportunities.
· Equip, encourage, and empower the Youth Ministry Team to provide weekly opportunities for middle and high school students to make a growing connection to Christ, practice Christian community, and discover their divine callings.
· By the end of the next twelve month period we will have served at least twenty youth through SPY meetings, retreats, and service projects.
· Equip, encourage, and empower paid staff to shift from doing ministry to leading teams of volunteers to live out their divine callings in local church ministry missional action.
· Sponsor at least one major invitational ministry event beyond our local church which will engage the general population of Rocky Mount.
· To directly impact the lives of at least twenty families in our community through intentional missional action.
· To participate in at least two global mission projects that impact the lives of children and families in poverty or crisis.
· Continue support of Williford Elementary School as our partner in serving children in poverty in our community.
The world around St. Paul is changing. St. Paul must do ministry in innovative and exciting ways to connect with this changing world. St. Paul must follow the leadership and vision of dedicated, Godly women and men who have a heart for people beyond the church, who are engaged in personal spiritual formation, who demonstrate their commitment to Christ through their offerings of prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, and who desire to see our congregation engage in missional action around the corner and around the world. The world around St. Paul is changing, and so we must change to reach the world.