Sunday night (9/9/2018) we launched our small group minstry. 53 people participated enabling us to form five adult small groups. This was especialliy significant in that we have just eight adult Sunday school classes and no space. We were very pleased that 34 participants had never been part of a Sunday school class or Bible study at First UMC Colleyville before.
In addition to the small group launch, we will also hold our first Neighborhood Table Meal on Wednesday, 9/12/2018. This once a month meal replaces our weekly Wednesday Wesley Meal which, according to a survey, had become tired and in need of changing. Declining interest, difficulty in finding people to prepare the meals, complaints about the quality of food, conflicting desires concerning programming along with our need to bring this largely internal weekly event into line with our Mission and Vision led the Executive Board to adopt the Neighborhood Table proposal.
Once a month, our church will recognize a mission/service agency in our communnity. We will invite representatives of that group to our church for a meal, have a representative share what is done by that ministry, and present them with a gift that meets a stated need of that group. The first group we are honoring will be Mercy house, a local agency that takes in pregnant and parenting mothers and provides them with health care, life and parenting skills, and helps them get education leading to employment. Our Missions Committee is providing this first meal and will decorate the tables and make this a nicer affair than in the past. Instead of paying for the meal, members and friends of the church are encouraged to bring diapers and baby wipes which is what Mercy House stated they needed most.
In addition to the inkind gifts, a member family in our church set up a scholarship fund for people in our church and community seeking vocational training. One of the mothers at Mercy House is a recipient of a $1500 scholarship which we will present at the dinner. Our hope is this will inspire the other moms and moms to be to seek education, too.
In anticipation of these changes, we preached two sermon series to help prepare the congregation. The first series was on Discernment and how we are called to be obedient to Jesus Christ and seek to please him rather than ourselves. The second series addresses the issue of community and how small groups were Jesus' way, the early church's way, and John Wesley's way of making Christians. Opposition continues to be strong as people go through the process of grieving the loss of a weekly meal together.
[For Fellowship, we will offer breakfast or lunch once a month on a Sunday. Groups preparing the meal can choose whether they serve breakfast or lunch. Most breakfasts will be "come and go" except on fifth Sundays when we will suspend Sunday school and combine 1100 and 1111 worship services so we can meet in the Event Center. Lunches will be served after 11 and 1111 worship. Groups who prepared Wesley Meals in the past as fund raisers have the opportunity to prepare these meals and charge for them. First time guests to the church will receive tickets at the Hospitality Table allowing them to eat for free.]
Older members of the church will also benefit from our Young at Heart ministry which is expanding their monthly luncheons from once a month to twice a month. Participants in Small Groups will also find there is a food element there.
The survey revealed there was no way the Wesley Meal could continue the way it was being done. It also reveled that there was no way to please every faction represented by the survey. The Executive Board, in it's wisdom, felt that we had to please God instead and go with what matched our vision "to be an outwardly-focused church that engages the local community to reveal the life-changing impact of a relationship with Jesus Christ."
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