In my first year of seminary I had to take a class called “Reading the Audience.” The class helped us more deeply engage questions around the purpose of our congregation, the impact of our congregations’ ministries, and the demographics and needs of the community in which our congregations resided and served. I remember asking several strangers on the street, in grocery stores, and at the park if they had heard of the congregation I was studying and if they would notice if the congregation closed its doors.
That question has stayed with me over the years. I ask myself regularly if anyone in the community would notice or care if we closed our doors. The answer continues to be YES because we make a difference. This afternoon a young woman stopped by the church inquiring about food. As she shopped in the pantry, she told me her story of ending up homeless after escaping an abusive boyfriend. Repeatedly she commented on how surprised she was to feel so welcomed, accepted, and not judged. As she left she apologized for dumping her life story on me but also thanked me for listening. While her story might be unique, her experience and comments are not. Our food pantry is more than just food, it is a place of acceptance, God’s grace, and healing.
We began the Narrative Lectionary this summer. This Fall we have been immersed in the Old Testament and the promises of God. I have enjoyed this new lectionary, but even more, I have been amazed at how God was at work each Sunday through the texts. Each week this Fall someone has come to church that was not a regular in worship. That individual has come carrying brokenness, loss, fear, and so much more. For each individual it was as if God was speaking directly to them, giving them the very words of hope, healing, comfort, and strength that they needed.
Would anyone notice or care if St. Timothy’s was
to close its doors?
The answer is YES!
St. Timothy’s is more than a building.
Here, God’s spirit is present.
Here, those on the margins are treated with dignity and love. Here, bodies and souls are nourished. Here, children grow up knowing they
are loved and that they can count upon God and the people of God.
St. Timothy’s matters and God is doing great
things in our lives and through us.
This month your challenge is to invite someone to check out one of our many ministries. Inviting a friend to the craft group, fourth Friday Luncheon, Daily Planet, or Food Bank are great ways to ease into inviting someone to worship God at St. Tim’s. Give it a try and
challenge yourself to invite four people to check out what St. Tim’s is up to.
“Check out my church’s volunteer day at the food bank.” Invite one person to check out something in which your congregation is involved. This should be done in appropriate conversations when an opening naturally presents itself—it should not feel forced or manipulated. By now, hopefully this feels more comfortable and you are more attuned to ways to bring church into your everyday conversations.
Pastor Jen Beil