Connecting People with God and Neighbor

So our church is going to be yoked with another congregation for the first time in its 130 year history: First United Methodist Church of Guthrie who also has 130 years of history. In fact, our two congregations started on the same day: April 22, 1889 during the Land Run in Oklahoma. Before the world shrank, these communities were farther apart. Now we have people that live in Guthrie in our congregation and it would not be surprising if they had people from Edmond attending their church.

While our congregation has grown in recent years, the Guthrie church has not had the same narrative. They are in need of an infusion that will help them find new health. We will be providing them with pastoral and worship leadership starting in July. They will change their worship time from 10:30 to 8:30 am on Sunday mornings. Rev. Trey Witzel and our worship band will lead worship in Guthrie and then come and present the same service at 10:50 am for Worship on Hurd in Wesley Hall here.

We are looking for someone locally to provide missional, evangelical and pastoral care leadership for their congregation on a part-time basis.

We are looking to recruit ten families in Guthrie with young children to covenant to worship with the Guthrie church. This will give them a solid base for recapturing the multigenerational aspect that every congregation needs for health. It is difficult to recruit young families if they visit and there are no other people that look like them!

This new relationship fits with our mission statement, “Connecting people with God and neighbor”. Just as we seek to do that within our own context, we will also seek to do that with our sister church so that people in that community will also be transformed in the love of Christ.

This strategy of yoking a struggling church with a healthy church is seeking to be an adaptive change to the problem of revitalization rather than a technical change. A technical change occurs when we see the solution to the problem. We may simply appoint another pastor. An adaptive change requires that we learn together what might be a new solution.

Systems resist change. I expect there to be resistance in both congregations to this change. Leadership guru Ronald Heifetz says that the change that people resist is some type of loss. Heifetz and Marty Linksy in their book, Leadership on the Line state the following:

“Adaptive change stimulates resistance because it challenges peoples habits, beliefs and values. It asks them to take a loss, experience uncertainty, and even express disloyalty to people and cultures. Because adaptive change forces people to question and perhaps redefine aspects of their identity, it also challenges their sense of competence. Loss, disloyalty, and feeling incompetent: That’s a lot to ask. No wonder people resist.”

Fortunately, we operate on the premise that we are called to serve Jesus in fundamental ways. When he asks us to carry our cross, it may be that the sacrifice we make is our comfort level. When we engage in new ministries, we must do so with a spirit of adventure because we recognize that we do not do so alone. God goes with us.

If you feel a sense of God’s calling in helping with this new ministry partnership – even in a small way, I would encourage you to email me. I believe that we are strong enough to make a difference in our neighboring community. That may be arrogant or brash. It sounds naïve. But I’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work through our people and I am ready to see what might happen if we give you the opportunity!

This Sunday, we will celebrate worship together in our usual time and place. As families celebrate Mother’s Day, I would invite you to bring your family members with you! I will do my best to not go long this week as I know there will be pressure to get to restaurants before the crowds. Some might want to bolster our attendance at our 9:45 service this week! We will continue to look at an Easter Vision with Acts 9:36-43. This particular story looks at the resurrection of Tabitha (I have trouble calling her Dorcas) and we will examine the vision of Resurrected Ministry.

In Christ,