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“Reach out to new people of all ages and incorporate them into the life of the church.”


In each of the next four newsletters, I would like to say some things about one of the major points identified by our Session for focus in our unfolding future. The Session will soon be discussing the feedback it received from you in our focus groups. The elders will also reach out to other churches to see what creative and helpful ideas we can glean in each of these areas. So now let me say a few things about this first focus:


1. One major theme that underlies this effort is that we are called by Christ to reach out to others. It is not our calling to be internally focused, complacent, or downright lazy about such a calling. All of those, I think, do in fact come into play at times. Discomfort also comes into play of course. We are not all meant to be door to door evangelists, but we do sometimes err on the side of complacency. It may be as simple as offering a prayer with a friend, mentioning something like Grief Share, or saying how this church has reminded you of God’s love and presence in your life. Easy things to do if you make a point of doing it.
I want to give a shout out to Donna McManus who was discussing some things in the office with us when a woman came in with information about music lessons that she teaches. After a fun conversation, Donna was soon telling her about our special music Sundays (Jazz, Bluegrass, Scottish) and inviting her to come visit. Way to go Donna! Pepe and Royal told me about going into Kohls after our recent outdoor service to buy sale items for needy people, while wearing their new FPC t-shirts. The shirts sparked several conversations and soon Pepe and Royal were telling people about our church and inviting them to come visit. One of the clerks said they were actually currently looking for a church. Way to go Pepe and Royal! A mother of three Scouts contacted me last week to find out about local Packs and Troops because they are moving here at the end of July. After some Scouting conversation, we talked about church and she mentioned they were Presbyterians and would come visit once they got here. See how easy that is! Of course, “reaching out” in the name of Christ is not just about inviting people to church, but inviting people I think is a natural byproduct of being a part of people’s lives and wanting to share God’s love with them.

2. Another understanding that I have of this focus is that “reaching out” is both an individual and a group effort. Above, I just discussed the individual part. But the church as a whole also needs to reach out. I’ve heard some good ideas of things we can do. Going to local events while all wearing our t-shirts. Hosting things like Jazz, Bluegrass, Scottish, Outdoor, Easter Sunrise, and Christmas Eve services and encouraging all of you to invite friends and neighbors while also advertising it in the paper and online. Hosting a campout on the grounds for families and children with an outdoor movie, cookout, and campfire. Hosting a “Theology on Tap” event in Fayetteville on a regular basis. There are so many things we can do, the only question is which ones.

3. The focus mentions “all ages.” I remember an article by a woman minister about how she had never been in a church that didn’t have it near the top of their list of desires to “attract more families with young children.” Of course, then they want a minister who can attract such families, even if everyone in the pews has gray or no hair and no one wants to change anything. I got a chuckle out of it, but partly because there is truth in that. The catch is that it is often not faithful to the gifts and setting of many churches, it is often driven by an internal fear of the church failing rather than a loving desire to minister to such families, and it puts unfair pressure on the pastor to be like a Pied Piper for young people. You may have also noticed in the Fayette paper recently that our county is actually growing older. There are young families around, but they are not the growing part of the population. All of that being said, the Session feels that it would be most faithful to reach out to ALL ages, young and old, black and white and other.

4. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, this whole focus is based on the notion that you are involved in the life of our church, that you know a little about what is going on here, and that it is actually a group to which you would like to invite people. In its meetings, the elders have had some good discussions about times when they personally experienced the presence of God here, and also when they noticed something really good happening. The things that were mentioned were big and little, long ago and last week, and involved a single person or the whole church. I hope that you will spend some time doing that yourself. Where have you felt God moving among us lately? The Holy Cow survey indicated that you have very positive feelings about the church overall and feel like good things are happening here. If that is the case, we hope that you will want others to be a part of our happy flock, enough so to actually invite someone.

Grace and peace to you all,

















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