Our fall new member classes will be held Monday September 17 and 24 at 7 p.m. and New Member Sunday is September 30 at whatever service our new members attend.
I LOVE new members! I love old members too… and people in general come to think of it. The most frequent question I get is about belonging. “How do I get involved here? How do I belong here?” I think about it in terms of four key areas. Those “4 keys” to being part of our faith family are: service, giving, worship, and small groups.
1. Service: We do not exist for ourselves, but for others. “If you want to be great, serve.” (Mark 10:43). We exist to bend the world toward blessing and bring it closer to Jesus’ vision of God’s Beloved Community where people work to release the prisoner, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, care for the sick, widow, orphan, and stranger.
We have various ministries that do these things: Our Garfield 7 Feeding Program, our hygiene bags, cooking for C.U.P.S. Cafe, mission trips to Costa Rica, our partnership with Community Service Center in town, and Nehemiah Mission in Cleveland. Service to God and our neighbors is the whole point.
2. Giving: Tithe is 10% of your income. We don’t check your W2s nor do we demand all 10%. If you give 5% to a woman’s shelter or another charity, then 5% comes here. Kate and I started out at 10% but then when the church said “What do you want us to do with all this $? No one really gives 10%” We slacked and now we’re trying to get back to 10% which we have done the past 4 years.
We used to think that our giving was excellent until we did the numbers and found that we were around 5-6%. We had no idea how stingy and closed we were being. Not exactly abundant living. We were storing up treasures for ourselves but are not rich toward God or our neighbor. Being more open and giving has it’s benefits. The biggest is that we know that through our giving our local community is being helped:
-Homeless are housed
-People are fed
-The hopeless are being inspired
-People are making connections and forming friendship
-Good is happening in our town because of our church’s work
-We are putting our money where our mouth is
3. Worship: Be in worship at least once a month. More if possible. This is the minimum attendance where you can attend and still know what’s going on. What we’re seeing nationally is that attendance is lagging. As Carey Nieuwhof points out, “People who used to attend every week are attending 3 times a month. People who were around twice a month often now show up once a month. And attenders who used to come once a month are showing up half a dozen times a year.” Regular worship helps you feel apart of this place, hear good news, and worship God and love neighbor.
4. Small Groups: Small groups are the backbone of the church. Here you can join, share your story, learn someone else’s and get some theology while you’re at it. Small groups facilitate connection between people, and since the church IS the people (not the building, not the structure, not the epic and handsome pastor… wait..) then this knits the body of Christ tighter together.
This fall we’ll be starting a Wednesday Bible Study at 7 p.m. It will run each and every Wednesday save for holidays through this year. We have a book study group. A women’s Bible study group. We have our various committees and teams that meet and work on projects. This is where you can know others and be known by others.
Those are my 4 keys! Your thoughts? Reflections? Questions?