SPOTLIGHT - A Recap of 7 Spotlights Involving Growth and Vitality

8/14/2019
By Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane

Churches Alive, Who is My Neighbor?, Science and Faith, and Other Less Traditional Programs Spur Local Church Activity

Many local churches who are attaining (or trying to attain) growth and vitality are focusing on less traditional ways of outreach and worship. Here are some poignant quotes from the past year’s Spotlight stories that show some of the ways churches can welcome an ‘uncomfortable-ness’ in their own church in order to make others feel more comfortable.

Melrose Church Uses Churches Alive Program to Help in Their Quest to Be More Vital and Purposeful

Melrose Church Uses Churches Alive Program to Help in Their Quest to Be More Vital and Purposeful

 

 
“I feel the 19 new members last year can be attributed to our outreach into the community (including a craft beer tasting fundraiser), a new Music Director who is growing the choir, much improved space for our Sunday School, strong youth participation in recent mission trips to Mississippi and Pine Ridge Reservation, and many other small and large things including the Churches Alive process….The Churches Alive process is a natural extension of the ways we are trying to be alive, vital, and purposeful.”
 
Quincy Point Church Holds Faithful Conversations in a Time of Unrest 






 

 

 
The “Who Is My Neighbor” program was envisioned as a series of conversations designed to bring together people of different backgrounds and different faiths – many of who may live in the same neighborhoods.  A clergy person or faith community leader was invited to speak about their faith and then engage those in attendance in conversation.  As Carol Johnston, chair of the Mission and Social Justice Committee at QPCC noted, “We hoped and prayed that this series would develop an understanding amongst people of different faiths, and that in the future, we can celebrate each other’s joys and stand with each other in times of divisiveness.”
 
Did an ONA Status Help Grow This Church?
3.	Did an ONA Status Help Grow This Church?    “I had to remind some members that one of the reasons they called me was to have more people like me – people in my generation with young families – come back to the graying church.  I tried to remind them they can’t be all things to all people and that being clear about their mission is what results in growth. I also explained that I couldn’t lead a church that was not welcoming to all, because I couldn’t betray my understanding of who God is in that way.” 
 
Weston Church Explores the Subject of Science and Faith During Their Christian Ed Classes
4.	Weston church explores the subject of Science and Faith during their Christian Ed classes





 
 
 
 
“I think that once we let go of the idea that much of what is in the Bible is not trying to be scientific fact, that the Bible is not trying to tell us how the universe and creation was made but how we are to be in it; that it’s about the relationship between us as humans, but also between us and God.  Once we grasp that, the questions and answers we find in the Bible are far more life changing than trying to figure out how creation could have happened in six days.”
Byfield Church Offers Addiction Recovery Course
Byfield Church Offers Addiction Recovery Course
 
  "Scripture tells us to love our neighbors.  Addiction to alcohol drugs, technology, and other things is having an impact on our neighbors. We should apply the unique resources available to us as a church to meet this need, especially God’s love, peace, and community.” 
 
Payson Park Seeking Visitors, Teens, and Refugees
Payson Park Seeking Visitors, Teens, and Refugees
 
  “We are coming to a consensus that we can no longer wait for the next generation to suddenly love the church of the past and come to our doors….Instead we need to reexamine all parts of our congregation, so that what we do reaches and embraces the next generation.  And many of our changes are coming out of this new focus….”
 
Pastor Advises To Be Inspired By Others To Do Something New -- And Maybe Uncomfortable

Pastor Advises To Be Inspired By Others To Do Something New -- And Maybe Uncomfortable
 

  “Many of us are so accustomed to the way we do church here that we cannot imagine doing church any other way. But guess what? Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. He broke tradition; he did something that had never been done before, something that made the Pharisees uncomfortable. And in the end, a man was healed. Shouldn’t that have been the goal all along? God’s grace is kind of a funny thing sometimes. My point is this: It is okay to be a little bit uncomfortable sometimes. It is okay to try something new. It is okay to do something that has never been done before, even if that means stepping onto a path that has never been traveled on. It is okay to walk away, even if it is just for a moment, from the rituals and traditions that we do by rote and see what else God is calling us to do in this moment.”
 

Read these and other inspiring stories at https://www.macucc.org/spotlight

SpotlightYou may reprint this story by including the following line in your article: 
Source: Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
www.macucc.org/spotlight

Share Your Still Speaking Story

Tell us how God is speaking in and through your church. Have you reached out to the community in unique ways? Initiated a new mission project? Found a new way to minister to those within the congregation? Share your story and help us to spread the good news!  Contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane,



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