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The Invitation

At the beginning of 2014, we created an Inviting Team to focus and guide our church’s efforts in inviting people into relationships with Christ, with one another and with God’s hurting world. In many ways, we already do a great job at this, as evidenced by the nearly 50 new members who have joined our church in just the last two Sundays! As with any area of ministry, though, there are ways that we can improve.

In the meantime, as a church staff we have recently been having some big picture discussions about our life together as a church family. In particular, we have explored participation in congregational life as a movement from invitation to assimilation (or belonging or connection) then to discipleship.

We have identified some gaps that currently exist as folks move from one phase to another. An example of the gap going from invitation to assimilation would be after folks go through the Inquirer’s Class and join our church, they sometimes struggle to find a Sunday School class or other group where they can get connected. The gap between assimilation and discipleship often manifests itself as a struggle for us to find folks willing to serve in various capacities, such as leading children’s Sunday School or cleaning up dinner on Wednesday evening.

As a staff, our desire is for everyone who is part of the Christ UMC family to grow in this communal life and journey of faith together and to become a deeply committed disciple of Jesus Christ. We are praying, talking and working for ways to close these existing gaps in our congregational life.

In particular, the Inviting Team is working on the first part of that process. We are focusing on two major aspects: the Sunday morning experience for visitors and connecting newcomers to others in meaningful ways. I am excited about the possibilities and looking forward to seeing how God will use these efforts to bless both our churches and new friends who make their home among us. We are planning to implement some of these ideas starting in the fall, so you may see some subtle changes begin to happen over the next few months.

We would love your ideas and input! Feel free to call or email me (jhill@christum.net) with ideas. We’d love to hear about your experiences – good and bad – from other churches or even other places or groups where you have been a visitor. We are eager to know what made it easy or what made it difficult to connect with others here at Christ UMC. We invite you to join us at our next meeting, this coming Sunday, May 18, in the Fellowship Hall after the late worship service. All are welcome as we try to help more people feel welcomed into God’s family here at Christ UMC.