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Walking The Talk


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Yesterday my church had a sermon about waking the dead. It was based upon a sermon by the pastor at Glide Memorial UMC in San Francisco. The basic message was that we need to be a safe, nonjudgmental place for ANYONE to come to share their journey. People often go back to the friends of their addictions for support, because "church people" haven't been through what they have and are often judgmental. We shouldn't give up on anybody, no matter how far down the road they seem. The pastor at Glide said that while it was easy to smell death in the streets of San Francisco in the '60s, middle class white churches all over America smell the same way.

 

The good that cam out of this sermon was that people in our small congregation shared some of their struggles with shame and addiction and shared support from others. Our church has a motto of open hearts, open minds, open doors, so it was not surprising, yet it was still nice.

 

But it also felt like our church should be reaching out to those outside our doors more. The college students are going to go on a mission trip to the Glide UMC Mission next month, but it felt like the sermon was calling each of us to reach out.

 

About a year ago, I tried to start a program within our congregation where once a month we did an outreach project as our worship. It failed because of logistics with setting up volunteering on Sundays during our regular worship time, and the fact that communication wasn't too good (People showed up in heels on the day we were working in a community garden, for example). Then we got a new pastor who wants to focus on making the worship services be the best they can be, and I've been really busy arranging music for the band and with another church outreach.

 

Has anyone had experience with a similar program (of outreach as worship)? I would love to know how to make it simple.

 

Thanks,

Janet

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All, thank you for reaching out. I feel social service is worship. Starting out small to what is close and easy, I feel is the best. The needs are so great it always snow balls into a bigger event. I started teaching a class in a prison one day and week and it snowballed into a half-way house for prisoners. The prisoners and I visited a mental hospital once a week from the half-way house and that snow balled in a half-way house for the mentally disturbed. These were big moments in my life because I learned and gained from these individual more than I ever gave them. They propelled me into a world that shattered the old and replaced the void with spiritual abundance. I don't like to force people to volunteer so I always did things that were close to my heart. The not so simple act of putting on a concert is a social service that is in great need. I usually started on my own and invited others along. They soon took over or branched off into another service. One prisoner put on free concerts in the city parks. This was in the late 60s early 70s and there was no smell of death. Life was lived, experienced, and developed into a sincere concern for others. Social service/spiritual progress would make a great bumper sticker.

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Soma,

Thanks for the tips. There is much for me to learn from your experiences. Sometimes it seems like I'm trying to FORCE things to happen. It will be natural if my congregation wants to reach out.

 

Xian Anarchist, I agree that the focus needs to be reshifted. I just need to see if the church leadership agrees :-)

 

Janet

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