Rethink Church Training Session Asks, “What if Church Were a Verb?”
Montgomery, Ala.—Huntingdon College’s Duffey Institute for Church Leadership and the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church will present the three-fold workshop, “Rethink Church,” at First United Methodist Church, Prattville, Saturday, October 3, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The workshop offers three ways to help congregations become more actively engaged with spiritual seekers in the community: Welcome. Connect. Identify. The cost for participation is $40 per congregation represented, plus $10 per participant to cover lunch and materials. To register or for more information, visit http://www.awfumc.org and click on the Rethink Church logo. The deadline for registration is September 27.
Rethink Church training contains three tracks with specific purposes to encourage participants to rethink how churches attract, welcome, and involve newcomers, and then take action on what they learn. The training is based on scripture, basic concepts of The United Methodist Church, research, and the experiences of other United Methodist churches. Key highlights of the day include these topics and tools:
* What if we took seriously the Great Commission?
* What if our messages moved beyond our sanctuaries, using the media of the day to speak to people’s hearts?
* Bishop Schnase’s Five Fruitful Practices from his book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.
* Attributes of the United Methodist denomination that attract seekers, based on research from Barna.
* Proven tools and practices used by United Methodist churches across the country.
Following an opening session, participants will divide into three sessions: Welcome, Connect, and Identify, for the remainder of the day. Congregations are encouraged to bring three or more participants in order to cover all of the sessions. The Welcome session helps participants see the church from outsiders’ perspectives and to rethink the church with emphasis on taking it to the people, rather than waiting for people to come. The Connect session explores how the church is known in the community and rethinks the concept of talking about church to “being” the church. The Identify session helps participants rethink their churches’ identities. The goal of the workshop is for attendees to go home with actions that they can apply immediately and ideas for future development and action.
The sessions use the resources and ideas of the United Methodist Church’s “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” advertising and welcoming ministry. “We’re trying to reach people not currently involved in the church with the idea that the church experience can be one that extends beyond our doors and seeks to transform the world,” said the Reverend Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, which coordinates the ministry and training sessions. “We are seeking to encourage a global spiritual dialog that will invite others to rethink church. We will ask, ‘What if church were a verb and not a noun? What if faith were about becoming engaged with the world?’ These sessions will be a catalyst in that conversation,” said Hollon. Leading the session at Prattville FUMC will be experienced trainers from across the United Methodist connection.
“Although this is a concept for and by the United Methodist Church, I think the principles are universal and adaptable for any Protestant congregation,” said Ed Trimmer, dean of Huntingdon’s Duffey Institute.
Huntingdon College, grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition of the United Methodist Church, is committed to nurturing growth in faith, wisdom, and service and to graduating individuals prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Founded in 1854, Huntingdon is a coeducational liberal arts college. The College’s Department of Religion offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in religion, youth ministry, and Christian education. Overall College placement rates into graduate and professional schools are, in most cases, more than twice the national averages.