We are of course a community rooted in the journey of faith. A relationship with Jesus Christ is what defines us. Individual church communities, as part of the larger body of Christ, also have unique identities that we call our “culture.”
I hear from our guests that they sense something more than friendliness, something more than the kindness you’d expect at church. Our guests experience our culture of camaraderie, our desire to include others, our understanding that when it comes down to it, we need each other.
Not all churches have a culture of fellowship. Some are centered in right practice, others in specific moral or religious choices, still others in social justice. I’m not making any judgments here; all these types of cultures are needed in the larger body of Christ. And having one of these at the core of a community does not exclude other foci from being present and valuable pieces of purpose and mission.
At EPUMC we have taken the time to discover that it is our culture of fellowship that lies at our center…most everything else we do from worship to feeding a hungry world comes out of this understanding of ourselves. And if something does not seem to fit, it usually doesn’t last very long.
This sense of identity is a gift from God that is intended to be shared. It is time now to nurture and even grow this gift. So how do you grow a culture of fellowship? It’s not with a class or a special speaker…if you ask me, it is through opportunities for fellowship.
This brings me to mention what we will be calling “Wednesday Night Live,” our catered churchwide meal at 5:45-6:30 on Wednesdays starting Sept. 12 for only $5 per person, $3 for kids, $15 maximum per family. That’s it… you show up for a meal and then go home or to whatever is next. Check out the article in this month’s Tumbleweed.
Although our “Culture of Fellowship” is something that is genuine and very organic, in our day and time it is so very important to be intentional about focusing on the things we value. I want to be very clear, I’m kind of sticking my pastoral neck out here…I believe that it is time that as a congregation we focus, we become intentional about growing our gift of our culture of fellowship in order to share it with our friends, our community, our world.
A few of us have joked that we might call this our second service. But that is not so far from being right. Can Wednesday evenings from 5:45- 6:30 be something like a second Sunday morning fellowship time? Tory Brogan said it well, “Come on Wednesday nights to nourish your body with good food, and nourish your spirit with good fellowship and togetherness as a church community.”
If enough of us just show up and have dinner together and someone on the margins or even new to our community finds a place to connect as much as many of us do on Sunday, how great would that be? That is how we grow the Culture of Community that has been entrusted to us at EPUMC.
Keep the Faith,