renewing the church united methodist church

Micro Church: Existing Congregation (4 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

I believe that existing congregations could be a place where a micro church could flourish. Utilizing a live stream of worship could enable existing congregations to begin another worship service with a small amount of resource commitment. It would not need to be in competition with existing worship services, but could serve to supplement existing worship opportunities. Encouraging and equipping leaders might bear fruit by leading groups in homes or in an existing church building. This might also be a way for congregations that might otherwise be closed by the annual conference to continue to sustain a community life together. This could bring new life to existing congregations and serve as a tool for renewal.

I believe that this will be an important way of rethinking existing congregations in The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

7 replies on “Micro Church: Existing Congregation (4 of 5)”

Andrew, it’s time for me to comment on this to see if you can wrap it up tomorrow in a way I can affirm too.

I agree with your thesis, that micro-churches and small groups will rethink the church. I’ve written echoes of this before but you’ve put it well into words.

However, I’m concerned about the emphasis on streamed worship and broadcast medium for these small groups. Beaming the same study to many different small groups may lead to revival but at what cost?

To me it smells like a McDonalds chain, where everyone gets the same meal no matter where they are. They can have different discussion with different people, but the same message that may or may not be tailored to them. It seems to claim that televised worship/teaching ala Joel Osteen is a valid substitute for participatory church…so long as there is more than one person in the room?

I abhor the franchise of Christianity that offers the same product to every household under one brand name. They may be micro-churches and offer individual response, so your thesis remains intact, but I’m uncomfortable with a franchise for the disenfranchised.

(and I want a dollar for every blog post entitled “a Franchise for the Disenfranchised”)

UMJeremy – I appreciate your concern, but suggest that there are several key differences between TV and an internet stream. For individuals there is the level of interactivity both with the people of the church and with others who are worshiping online. Also, the emphasis on equipping leaders to lead small groups both physically for worship and to grow in their faith outside of worship is key. Local leadership and groups makes discipleship and care much more possible than with a TV ministry. Does that still smell like a franchise?

Like, Jeremy, I am a bit wary. It seems to me that too much is lost when the preacher isn’t preaching a sermon intended for that specific group of people. Perhaps if there were clips that a Certified Lay Minister could build on that would be a more effective model. But I think you always need someone whose role it is to prayerfully take the scripture, current events, and that particular congregation together for a message.

Ironically, my background is in computer engineering. So when I left the software consulting company where I worked for 5 years, they said…oh so are you going to be an Internet pastor (some were serious, some said it with snickers). I worked for a company that largely did custom software, huge multi-million dollar systems from the ground up. We often helped companies make the critical decision of: build, buy, or outsource. My opinion was always to build systems that were in your most strategic areas, buy and outsource in areas that were less strategic.

Apply that to the church. What is our core area? Although Sunday morning is often a little too prominent, I still argue it is core to who we are as church. Sunday morning is the opportunity to shape the congregation through prayerful reflection on the scriptures and life. If it’s that core, I’d argue that in most circumstances we need to have it customized to each church.

Please note Andrew, I am in no way knocking your role as the Internet Pastor for COR. In that role it seems that the Internet isn’t an end but rather a vehicle to invite people into community. That I whole-heartedly agree with.

Justin – Excellent worship will look different depending on many factors. I appreciate your comparison to what is the core areas of a company. I believe that the core focus of the church should be on spiritual formation and that worship is one of the many ways in which the community creates environments for souls to thrive. It is critical that there is local leadership to tend to the souls of those who gather and the possibility to equip local leaders in this way is a new possibility at this time in church history.

Actually, Lyle Schaller has been advocating this for a while but with videotapes instead of livestreaming (earlier tech).

It is a sad fact that we do not have 25,000 excellent (much less outstanding) proclaimers and interpreters of God’s Word in our churches today. So, if we can bring our best preachers into more of our churches, then everyone would benefit.

It is also true that it is much easier to start small and build up rather than immediately start with 125 attendees who could support a full-time pastor.

Hi Andrew,
Interesting. My thoughts are similar to those above, but here’s my 2-bits. My community is pretty rural and it’s difficult to get and/or sustain an ordained minister that has a passion for this type of small congregation. I’m considering something like this to augment an itineracy, enabled by local (licensed?) pastors. One of my favs about UM is its connectional nature. This could help connect our underserved clusters. Keep the small, local-ness, but connect to a larger hub.
Hmmm. Much to pray (and think) about.

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