Just What Is God Saying to Us? / The Post-it Offering

April 8 2018

*The church is like a football team, ready to give its all for the Coach;

*The church is like a ship at sea, with us working the boilers or sails while the Captain steers her true.

*The church is like a toolbox used for building lives to the design of the master architect.

*The church is like a rowboat with two oars labeled “faith” and “works”, trying to row together to the rhythm of the One who steers.

*The church is like a car full of passengers navigating a roadmap drawn by God.

*The church is like a hospital for sick souls, applying the medicine of grace and love by God’s prescription.

*The church is like a puzzle full of people-pieces being put together to create one beautiful picture of God.

*The church is like an oyster, accepting the grit of broken people and transforming them through layers of God’s grace and love into pearls of belovedness.

*The church is like a motorcycle in my garage, which comes into my garage in boxes of pieces and parts, but is worked on with love and direction until it runs perfectly, taking its driver to many wondrous destinations.

*The church is like a teapot…..

A teapot is designed to receive loose-leaf or bagged tea along with boiling water, which is combined and left for a time determined by strength of brew desired, at which point it is poured out into receptive vessels to be consumed.  Repeat as long as thirst tea remains.

A church building is designed to have the variety of God’s people poured in, along with the warmth of the spirit and the grace of God, to steep in the warmth of Christ’s love and spirituality for awhile, but not too long, and then be poured out for others.  Repeat as long as need for God remains.

 We are here to take a look at what we pour into the teapot we call our church building, what to work on here, what to pour out for others, in the pursuit of God’s desire for this church.

Presentation by Pastor John, with the other Core Vision Team of Listening Season interviewers: Lorraine Carlson, Linda Gillison, Teresa Henry, Lisa Mecklenberg, Jackson, Scott Jackson, Joe Loos, Jana Staton, Morgan Thomas, Nate Thomas, Jason Triche, and Katie Zemel

Pastor John began with several fun and thoughtful analogies to help us think about the question “What is a church; and what does God want us to use our church for after the remodeling?” He then described the six posters on easels at the front of the church, and Vision Team representatives read some of the responses and ideas brought up during the listening sessions that applied to the six Focus of Service Areas on each poster.

The six Focus of Service Areas and quotes from the interviews:

1.               Senior Fellowship: Meals Day activities & respite care Support “I’d be willing to teach health and fitness classes for “body and soul” using my health care experience.” “I’m just retired and looking for mid-week classes: exercise class, Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, Bible study. I’d like to come to my church instead of a gym.” “Luncheon meals once a week for our senior members and friends, using our new kitchen.”

2.     Congregational Community Building: Classes & small groups Alternative worship, at times other than on Sunday morning Church-wide pot lucks “I’d like to see more get-togethers in the church, especially potlucks after church. Combine food, choice of classes for adults with potlucks.” “I want to see “Missions for Members” – a social network taking care of our members’ families… on both theological and personal levels. Feed our members, feed the souls in church.” “It would be good if the FUMC congregation were made up many small fellowship groups, so we would know if someone is in need of something—we would have real relationships with each other..

3.     Community Outreach: Taking advantage of our location Meals, music, and art shows Service projects open to the community

“What would get me excited and involved would be community-centered, open worship services at different times than Sunday morning, with new music resources.” “Food is community — a functioning, large capacity kitchen and eating area used for community meals would be wonderful.” “I’m in healthcare, and I know how much diet, exercise and other measures can prevent illness. Health education should be free, and our church could do a lot to make that happen – hosting space for education and exercise classes.” “I want to see public music festivals, social justice plays and performances. “ “We could have art fairs on First Fridays displaying the work of local artists who need space, like Brad Williamson and others from Opportunity Resource Inc,. our local Detention Center’s art project. “ “What about a community coffee house with music – a real community event that our church could offer once a month, with coffee and pastries, a good singer as a draw. I could really get into that.”

4.     People experiencing homelessness: Emergency shelter (such as overflow space for the Pov during extreme cold) Safety Family promise / Poverello lunches “Use our building (for emergency shelter) if Poverello is in crisis and needs more beds for one night. Missoula is tolerant, but we can be more tolerant.” “Work on strengthening connections with Homeless Connect. Make the facility a place of hospitality for the marginalized.”

5. Vulnerable populations [these quotes are from outside observers]: Re-affirming reconciling Safe place Education “We need a safe gathering place downtown for people who do not feel safe most of the time — LGBTQ, immigrants, undocumented, those who have been hurt by the church.” — Divinity School Student. “We have an insane childcare situation in Missoula — anything that could help provide and support quality childcare would be a plus.” – [Soft Landings & MCPS} “Provide opportunities for persons disoriented by abuse, neglect, mistakes to gain acceptance, support, and affirmation through recovery.” — Support Group Representative

6. Youth/Young Adults College age Middle & High School Sunday School “If we don’t have a coffee house, place for those 500 college kids to hang out and be welcome who are living a block away, we’re missing it.” “We really need a class for our kids on how to help other kids who are dealing with anxiety issues.” “How about low-cost dinners for the college students, concerts for musical uplifting, craft fairs, youth parties, and weekend retreats?” The Post-it Offering: Pastor John explained the Post-it process to the congregation: 1) Even if you only have an interest in a particular idea (like a coffee house idea), you need to “post” your interest in that idea under the Focus of Service Area it fits under, and be willing to meet with others to explore how that idea might go forward; and 2) putting your name up does not obligate you to work on this forever – we are asking the groups that meet together to work on exploring how it could be developed and come up with their recommendation(s) and be done by the beginning of October.

Then the congregation was invited to come forward row by row, just as we do for receiving communion, and place a post-it with their name and contact information on the Focus of Service Area posters they are interested in. (Yellow for “interested in our church doing this” and Green for “will help lead an effort to organize this idea.”)

After everyone had returned to their seats, the posters were filled with post-its, including many green! They will be kept as is in the office during the week after and put back up in the sanctuary on the 15th for anyone who missed Sunday to add their post-it(s). (Names and contact info on each was also written down by Visioning Team after the service.)