On the evening of Thursday, July 13th six of us from Zion Church attended a Town Hall Meeting sponsored by the Eastern Association Committee on Ministry of the Missouri Mid-South Conference.
Deborah Bailey, Gus & Terry Elia, Kathy Hardy and Amanda Hayes drove down together and attended the meeting which was held at St. Paul’s UCC in Marthasville, Missouri. Meeting them there was Pastor Jim Hilker who came with his wife, Lisa.
The basic theme of this meeting was, “Is God calling churches of all sizes to work together in new ways?”
The purpose of the meeting was to get a conversation started about how we might share ministry together for the glory of God. Small churches are having difficulty finding authorized ministers to serve. Larger churches are having difficulties expanding their mission into new directions.
The conversation was led by Rev. David Poe, Chairperson of the Eastern Association Committee on Ministry, along with Conference Minister Dr. Rev. Ginny Brown Daniel, Associate Conference Minister Rev. Dale Parson, and Rev. Jeff Mueller, the Host Pastor. The meeting, originally slated to start at 7:00 PM, was moved earlier because anticipated attendance grew to 8o persons quickly.
After registration, devotional and ice breaker activities; we were broken up into teams of eight trying to keep us working with those of other congregations (no clusters from the same church). We then moved to the presentations. David Poe explained the Life Cycle of the church. He shared a chart with us that we have seen before and we had a fruitful discussion regarding it.
Pastor Andy Mockridge, from the Western Association shared a presentation with the group. She presented the story of the church she is currently at and the success they have had with a shared ministry (yoking).
The breakout groups were then given four questions to think about, discuss and put their thoughts on paper.
These Questions were:
1) As you think about the nature of your local church, how would you describe the health and vitality of the congregation? What visual symbol or image might best describe your church?
2) Is your church excited about the future? If so, what gives the setting energy and hopefulness?
3) How does your church invite the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit in decision making? Is there a sense that God is present in discerning the direction and future of the church?
4) In imagining a new future, is it possible that God might be inviting your church to a model of “shared ministry”? What does that look like?
Would it be a matter of surviving or more of a matter of “thriving” (creating something new and exciting”)?
Each team had a chance to share their finding with the group. The results of all material presented and shared will be compiled and shared with the attendees at a later time.
It appears from this meeting that a valuable approach for many congregations may be Yoking or “shared ministry”. We have tried it in our past as have many other congregations in the MMSC.
There are about 50 congregations in the Eastern Association. Obviously they weren’t all represented at this meeting. Perhaps only the ones looking for answers were there. Yoking did appear to be a good solution for them.
This Town Hall Meeting was just a first step in a series of discussions. We’ll see where they take us.
This chart was shared at the meeting
This presentation was given by Rev. David Poe to lead off the meeting. The Lifecycle of a Congregation.
This presentation was given by Rev. Andy Mockridge on the Changing Landscape of Ministry.
This document contains the results of the team sessions Results.
The following persons attended the Town Hall Meeting.Meeting Attendees.