Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Investing in each other…

Last year, when our church declared a new vision (all together now, “To become a beacon of Christian openness and service in the NW suburbs”!), we also claimed four core values. And one’s been on my mind recently- Friendly, intimate community.

Sometimes small churches like ours have self-image problems. They unconsciously buy into society’s myth that “Big=Good”. All would be well, they tell themselves, if only we were larger, grew 50%, if more folk were giving. Not realizing that all churches, whatever their size, face similar challenges. Nevertheless, they come to see their size as a problem, a symptom of failure, even, as if their size makes neighbors cringe and God unhappy.

By lifting up “intimate community” as a core value, however, Plymouth Creek took a different route. We acknowledge that our congregation, while not what everyone’s seeking, has a unique role to play in our community. Specifically, we claim that God’s love works most powerfully in close, intimate relationships between sisters and brothers of faith. In other words, our size helps us pursue our mission. We know each other. We can challenge and change each other, therefore, with God’s help and by sharing love in all we do. It is a good thing, indeed, to be part of Plymouth Creek, participating in friendly, intimate community that strives to reflect God’s unfailing love!

And to put that core value into greater practice, we’re changing Sunday School. Of course, we know there aren’t huge numbers of children and youth bursting the doors of Plymouth Creek, presently. So the old model of age and grade specific Sunday School can’t work in our midst. It wouldn’t be effective for the young ones, nor exciting for teachers. Yet we have some joyful, thoughtful and creative young folk whose Christian Education we ought take seriously, as well as an opportunity to offer families beyond our walls something different. And profound.

So to make that happen, we’re combining a few different models into one that, I pray, will become an exciting addition to our ministry profile. Rather than split the kids up, we’re going to put them all together, encouraging learning through relationships, through children and youth investing in each another. Get this: Every month, our Sunday School will focus on just one story, one part of the Bible’s greater story that we believe is important. But every week in the month, we’ll encounter that story in a new way. Crafts. Videos/Skits. Games/Activities. Books. Music. Therefore, by month’s end, our children and youth will really know what’s going on, having explored the Exodus, for instance, or the parable of the Good Samaritan, in a variety of formats, all exciting and meaningful.

And while I’ll lead these activities, it won’t just be Pastor Shane speaking. All participants will interact with and, therefore, teach each other. So older youth, who may know much already, will help younger ones paint pictures, create crafts, sing songs, make movies. And younger ones, through their unique ideas, will help older youth (and me!) see God’s story in whole new ways. And what’s more is I’d love it if I wasn’t the only adult participating. Wanna help me teach and learn more about the Bible?! If so, let me know. I’ll share more about our plans with you. As importantly, tell your friends about the different kind of learning their kids can do.

After all, friendly, intimate community works best when we invest in each other. So why not celebrate this God-given uniqueness of following Christ at Plymouth Creek?! Adult Sunday School will remain meeting together, and I hope more of you participate. Though I can’t promise that me, the children and youth won’t be laughing and singing loudly! But however you find it meaningful to learn and grow as a Christian, I pray you make that a priority this school year and beyond. I mean, none of us are ever finished learning more about God and God’s role in our lives, right? Indeed, if ever there’s a friendly, intimate relationship to nurture, that’s certainly the one.

Grace and Peace,
Read more!