I prayed sincerely about what God would have me do here in Caliente. Caliente Community UMC is in a very small rural community.
70% Mormon and the population of 1,400 (with two small towns included) has not grown in the past 20 years.
My first month’s preaching was all about having a Vision for direction, and how we needed one another.
In the Second month, It was all about God’s change through grace. Not my change or their change.
The question was," What does God want to do with Caliente Community UMC?"
The church was starving for a spiritual renewing in God’s love and grace.
I see Caliente Community church as glimpse of what all our churches are facing.
(We needed to be renewed before we could renew others).
The things we needed to do was very evident.
I sent out surveys on 3 different Sundays to get a feedback from the church.
People were in full agreement, we needed all these things.
So we started a small group, had a men’s movie night and began some meetings about starting
A children’s ministry. However, The response was very little. And only one couple came to the small group.
I was a little surprised. Everyone seem to be all for having a small group. And I had it on the night they indicated, and there was plenty of room. We started the small group at the church.(The houses in Caliente are VERY small.}
So we finished that small group and I then started praying again about how to start another small group. I visited families and had coffee and lunch with people, with one on one Conversations. I soon realized that this church did not understand what life groups were. They had a Bible study group, but they were not spiritually connected in relationships.
This church has families that have grown up together in this community.
So what else could they benefit out of being in a small group together?
They already knew each other.
And like in every church, TIME was a big factor.
They didn’t have the time, because “life groups” weren’t a priority, because they didn’t see the need to be in one.
The order of priorities now became clearer to me.
THEY NEEDED SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIPS.
In order for encourage the people to come to a “Life group”, I put together a 4 week “mini group”. My husband and I would go to a couple’s home. That couple would invite one other couple. And that would be all that made up the group.
I kept them small intentionally. And When I presented this to the church, We had sign ups! This seemed to be “doable” to them. They could sacrifice
4 weeks and get through a group.
And once they came, they were hooked! They loved the spiritual experience of gathering together, learning why we need to have small groups and enjoyed being able to express how they felt on things.
We are seeing changes in how the leadership is responding through God’s grace with others, as well.
And so far, we tend to end a group in about 6 weeks.
We are in the process of starting our fourth LIFE GROUP. Now this means I’m going to 4 life groups during the week. (I serve part time here) But I really believe that the Pastor has to lead by example. This is one of the things I have admired about John Wesley. He went to the need.
Depending on the church, this church needs the Pastor to jump start the small groups. I have told my Lay Leaders that I expect all of them to have participated in a life group during the summer. I need them to be ready for the fall. We will be launching our Fall Life groups for the rest of the
church. And my Lay Leaders will be energized and excited to share their experience. And some of them will be leading their own life groups.
I am using to books. One group is going through the “Community” by Andy Stanley. The other book is “Living as United Methodist” by Andy and Sally Langford.
Both excellent. Community, is excellent in beginning in a small group for the first time. It has been extremely successful in forming spiritual relationships.
Renewing ourselves in God’s grace is transforming Caliente Community. There’s a God change happening here. And these Discipleship Life groups are transforming our leadership into the “engaging Leadership CCUMC needs.
I believe we will be ready to form a vibrant children’s ministry that will come out of the hearts of the CCUMC members.
Making it a strong vital ministry that our families can count on and building vital outreach ministries and mission teams.
The members of CCUMC will be in a place, where inviting others will be something they are spiritually compelled to do.
Because they are being renewed themselves in a place where they can Belong, Believe and Become.
We are becoming the Body of Christ that God can use in Caliente.
Pastor Teresa Adams
Caliente Community UMC (DSW Conference)
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