Fall is here! You’ve probably been hearing about our fall programing plans by now. For the past few months, we’ve been in conversation with people throughout the church to discern God’s leading during this transitional time. While you can read about all of the programs that are happening elsewhere in this newsletter, I’d like to take a moment to explain some of the rationale for the programs we are excited to begin.
Throughout this process, we’ve maintained 3 priorities: 1. As the environment around us changes, the church needs to have a spirit of openness to experimenting with new ways of doing ministry. 2. Our church has a tremendous resource in that it is a multigenerational church. We are one of the only places in society where a 12 year old and a 92 year old can regularly share a table. 3. Children and youth need multiple adults partnering with their parents to help raise them in the faith. The success of a youth program depends on far more than the individuals running it.
All three of these priorities were born out of our church’s mission and vision, especially the guidelines for pursing our vision. For example, those guidelines outline the need to take risk and experiment for the sake of the Kingdom of God, stewarding well our core ministries, and seeking to engage every member in ministry.
With all of that in mind, we recognized that our culture is changing around us – children and youth are busier than ever before. Wednesdays after school are rarely free for teenagers like they used to be. In addition, it’s increasingly challenging for families to get quality time together.
So in the fall programming we have outlined, we have tinkered with the usual schedule to create some more opportunities for families to be together and for the whole church to have time together. Few children come to Sunday School on the weekends so we’ve made their after school program weekly. We also want children to receive age-appropriate teaching and content during Sunday services, which is why we are bringing children’s church back in both services. Increasing amounts of middle school students have Wednesday commitments so we are moving their main program to Sunday evenings.
In an effort to create more opportunities for multigenerational ministry, we are having a weekly Wednesday evening dinner for people of all ages. This is meant to be a time to meet new people, enjoy a convenient meal together as a family, and have some carefree conversations about faith. In an effort to also go deeper, we are starting a prayer program as well, where adults commit to praying for children and youth over an extended period of time.
All of these ideas are an effort to respond to the changing environment around us so that more and more people can experience the love of God and the story of Jesus within the church. Throughout this fall, we’ll be evaluating these programs to make sure that we are being as effective as possible.
So whether you have children at home or not, there is an opportunity for you to get involved and to have an impact in the next generation in our faith. We can always use more volunteers, and the more people we have at dinner, the more opportunities we’ll have to learn from one another. I’m thankful to be a part of such a vibrant church that is always striving to faithful. I can’t wait to see you on a Wednesday or a Sunday this fall!
Austin D. Hill