Church Ideas

Over the years I have been writing down thoughts I have for whenever I am a pastor one day. The ideas are on several different word documents, this is my way to put them all into one and to share with anyone who reads. They are as the title suggests, simply ideas. They may work, they may not. In my mind they work beautifully! This is a way for me to dream and those days when I doubt my call, God has often used this to encourage me and reaffirm my call. This page will be a continual work in progress

Worship Space – I like the idea of a worship space being a circle. This way it doesn’t focus on the preacher and band up at the front. Some symbol can be in the middle of the circle to remind us that Christ is the center of worship. I also wonder about doing different types of seating, such as: pews, chairs, pillows on the floor, and other ways. Outside of the circle would be prayer stations and that at any point during the service people are invited to go and simply pray. There will be prayer guides for some stations, others may be empty, and others may have people there to pray for you, and another will be a chance to partake in communion each week. I think worship should be experiential and more participatory. I think this invites people to be more active and engaged in the time of worship as opposed to being recipients, bystanders, and watchers, which church can often feel like.

Worship could also incorporate an element of discussion and reflection on the scripture text and sermon. After the sermon, people divide into small groups to engage in dialogue and learning through sharing and listening to one another

I also think about the church building and ways it be more of a center of life for the whole community. I share more about that here if you are interested. 

5 Pillars of the Church:
1) Spiritual Formation and commitment to spiritual practices. Prayer will be the foundation of all we do. We will provide resources for continual spiritual growth throughout the week. I really want our church to be people who earnestly desire to learn, grow and practice their spirituality.
2) Inclusive welcome of all people. This is a must. I want this to be our DNA and take active steps to show that we mean it. All churches claim to be welcoming and have “open doors” as the UMC says, but in reality that is not always so. I love the Reconciling Ministries Network and believe that is an active way to say we are committed to welcoming all people
3) Growing in Community – Caring for each other authentically and sacrificially, building meaningful relationships, having fun and laughing together, and being vulnerable and crying together
4) Theological Engagement – Inviting the church to explore theology, scripture, and faith seriously and deeply. I think it would be great to offer weekly “classes” for deep theological thinking around important theological issues and themes, especially as they relate to our world today. It’s important to provide space for dialogue and questions. Church shouldn’t be centered on shallow theology – eventually, God calls us to the deep end and I want my church to be loading up the boats to paddle out to the deep end.
5) Missional Living – Working for justice and mercy, being advocates, caring for those in need, inviting people to lead ministries where they can live out their passions.

Sermon Ideas:
Difficult Passages/Stories in the Bible: Job, Paul on Women and Atonement, Joshua/Noah on God killing others
Cliches Christians Say:
Why Aren’t We Different?
Moving from Us Centered Prayer to God Centered
Foundational Pillars of the Church
A Eucharistic People and Living as the Baptized
Church As: Prophet, Pastoral Care Giver, Equipper, Sender, Story Teller, Generous Giver

Weekly Theological Classes for Deeper Theological Engagement:
Reading Revelation Responsibly Not Literally
Moralistic Therapeutic Desim
Wesleyan Theology
Exploring Atonement

Quarterly Spiritual Growth Challenges (to invite the whole church into practices of growth in holiness)
90 Day Bible Reading Challenge – Read the whole Bible in 90 days and meet weekly for discussion on difficult texts and overview of what has been read
40 Days of Water – Drink only water for 40 days and take money that would have been spent on other drinks and give to help provide clean drinking water around the world

Each month have a different mission focus: Clothing, food, human trafficking, clean water, orphans, violence, etc… One Saturday a quarter, have an intentional day of focus, prayer, learning and practical application on the issues covered in the past few months. Could have a worship and prayer night, followed by a challenging/inspiring movie/documentary on the issue followed by small group conversation

Fun Community Church Events:
Movie night
Board game night

I would love for our church to look at being a Reconciling Congregation and a Healing Community to communicate our care and ministry to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and our family affected by the criminal justice system.

I would like us to be a church who develops our own resources for spiritual formation and to show that we can enough about our church’s spiritual growth that we take the time to put together quality resources.

More Worship Ideas:
Honor and celebrate the special offering days in the UMC (being a contrast community means we are a community that seeks to live generously)
Provide space for every worship service for people to move around, to pray, to experience God through multiple senses (video, pictures, images, taste, lighting), offer different seating arrangements
Monthly or quarterly – have a service this is just prayer, worship and communion. It’s a space to come and rest in the presence of God. Could have a community meal before or afterwords, and could put together care kits/packages for relief organizations like UMCOR.

Host special workshops at the church:
Advocacy training
Community organizing

Community and Global Engagement Ideas:
Children’s Hospital Ministry (and adults hospitals) – caring for staff who have to work on holidays and caring for patients and families
Providing care for those who have to work nights and who spend their working hours cleaning up after the rest of us
Partner with local schools to provide food on weekends for students on free/reduced lunch and dinners during the week

Perhaps in the early part of the fall have a month full of retreats for different ministries – for the next year’s activities. Each week could be a different retreat. One retreat for each facet so that it is more focused, intentional, and specific for that particular area
Week 1: Community worship
Week 2: Spiritual formation
Week 3: missions, justice, outreach
Week 4: Fellowship

It’s important to share with your church what you care about. It’s important that we make easily accessible resources for people who are need. In the weekly bulletin what if we had the numbers for various hotlines (suicide, abuse, addiction, etc…). That helps people know that the church cares about the issues, that the staff are willing to talk with you and walk with you through these and it gives people, who are struggling with these issues a place they can call for help without the anxiety of asking for those numbers.

Online Presence:
A church website shouldn’t just share information about the church, but should offer a variety of resources for spiritual formation and missional engagement. It would be great to offer 3 podcasts a week for church members. Each one would be 20-25 minutes long. One podcast would be interviewing a different professor, theologian, scholar, church community partner, non-profit workers sharing how the church can connect, and other similar interviews. The second podcast would be align with a book that the whole church is invited to read each month. The podcast would consist of the pastoral staff and church members sharing their thoughts and reflections from the book. The third podcast would involve the pastors answering questions church members have about a variety of issues: theology, scripture, God, the church, theodicy, etc…

A book of the month highlight. A great way to share about spiritually formative resources, to encourage spiritual reading, and to provide a topic each month for conversation. Then we can offer a few gatherings to will meet monthly to have conversation about the books.

Have groups meet for specific periods of time that go through resources that help you practically engage in acts of personal and social holiness (resources that have daily acts of prayer, daily acts of justice, etc…) and meet weekly to reflect over their living out their faith

Thinking about a mid-week contemplative service. No sermon, a time of meditative music, a variety of slow worship songs (hymns, acoustic contemporary, instrumental, Taize, celtic music) reading of scripture aloud with questions for reflection, prayer stations, communion, read written prayers from a variety of voices out loud, space to simply sit and be with God.

More to come!