Throughout our exploration of how to grow our church, we have challenged our members to come up with both public and private “What if?” statements. Some of these have been shared, paper leaves hanging from the vine in the church’s narthex.
One of the earliest leaves carried a potentially loaded message: “What if we all talked to more people during coffee hour?”
The message, of course, is that to be truly open, friendly and welcoming, we have to be, well, friendly and welcoming.
This article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch drives this point home.
What do you think? What can we do as a church to continue growing, furthering our mission?
Thanks to Judy Hertenstein, who recently presented her own “What if” moment during worship.
Imagine What’s Possible! That was the theme for the Missouri Mid South Annual Gathering last weekend. There were a multitude of What If ideas presented from the “imagine a New World” where we are all One to individual ideas. As religion has been used as an excuse for war, we need to recognize our unity and to become One body in Christ. We can share diverse gifts and talents in the common cause of serving in the name of God. What if we looked at everyone out of love? Not only those in our family or close friends but also the stranger on the street, even the drug addict, the convict…they are all children of God. What If we reached out to each other intentionally? There are many who lack Hope because of their situations…unemployment, health issues, financial worries, grieving, family dysfunction, and others. What If we really listened to what others have to say not just with our ears but with our hearts also? What If we reached out to each other with the real desire to understand each other and a willingness to work together? Giving Hope improves relationships. With LOVE and HOPE, JOY can follow as we serve Christ as ONE body. Imagine What’s Possible!
What If each Sunday we really heard the story again as if hearing it for the first time? We need to really listen, not only with our ears but with our heart. And not only on Sunday, but in our daily prayer and Bible reading, really listen for what God is saying to us. We may hear God’s plan for us. We need to realize that God’s plan is not always our plan…deep listening may give us a better picture. Imagine What’s Possible!
As we are looking at growing the vine together, we are in fact growing in numbers. We will be welcoming new members on July 24. This is good, but that is not the only way we can grow. What If on Rally Day we all wore something green or something with Ivy, not just the word, but perhaps a picture? And here’s a novel idea, What If some other Sunday we all wore hats? These are just other fun ways to say we are a family. Let’s become a true community of Christ…every member contributing unique gifts and using those gifts for the work of Christ. All things are possible through Christ. Imagine What’s Possible!
The Conference Annual Gathering was a wonderful event. Of course there’s the business of the Conference—including the annual budget proposal. The deficit is finally becoming manageable due to some restructuring, sound investing and local church support through OCWM. Then there is the good food and fellowship. It is like a yearly family reunion with members of all UCC churches across the conference reconnecting, sharing, praying, singing and playing together. I even got to play pinochle with Jeff Whitman, our Conference Minister and with a classmate from 40 years ago. What If a group of us went to the Conference Annual Gathering next year? Everyone is welcoming and caring. Imagine What’s Possible!
Other What Ifs dealt with local church…What If we changed our worship service to be less predictable…more variety in music? What If we changed the rhythm and style of some well known hymns…not all the time but occasionally…a little jazz, a little gospel, a little rock and roll? We do some of this on special Sundays, like camp Sunday and Youth Sunday, but how about other times. What If we became a part of the Creative Faith Project? Think of all the ways art…in all its many forms…drama, painting, dance, handicrafts, music…can be a part of the worship experience. This would be another opportunity to revitalize Ivy Chapel. Imagine What’s Possible!
How do you unlock what’s possible? What’s your “what if”?
Thank you for reading the Ivy Chapel “What if?” Blog. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be publishing thoughts and challenges, questions that, when thoughtfully answered, will help us become the people God wants us to be.
During our Annual Meeting in January, we challenged members of our congregation to pose “What if?” questions to each other. These challenges were written on slips of paper shaped like leaves, and now hang on the ivy vines hanging in the narthex. We’ll be posting a few of these to get the discussion started, along with other inspirational thoughts.
Feel free to comment. Join the conversation. Help us grow, and, in turn, grow your own faith as well.
We are the “God is Still Speaking” Church!
We celebrate that God is continuing to bless our lives with daily grace.
Guess what we’ve discovered?
God is inviting us to go on a trip together.
No, it’s not a vacation trip.
This is a vocation trip!
Our vocation, our calling is becoming who God is asking us to be.
As the saying goes, “Life is not a destination. It’s a journey!”
Our congregation is embarking on a Journey that we’re calling: Growing the Vine Together.
We are travelling together. And it’s exciting!
“Still-Speaking” God is saying: “What If…”
It’s about potential.
The possibilities are limitless.
This “What If…” Journey is about our God-given potential as a community of faith.
There’s a world of difference between “living it up” and “living up” to who God would like us to be!
Our congregation’s “What If…” Journey is a calling to “live up” to our God-given potential.
This is a process of calling on God to reveal ever more things we can do to support and enhance the life
of this congregation which is a vital instrument of God for carrying out Christ’s ministries.
Ivy Chapel UCC is our spiritual home. God has provided us with this remarkable church home not solely
for our own benefit. This is all part of God’s design: We are blessed, so that we may offer blessing.
We receive, so that we may give.
We have been given much. God has entrusted us with much. Related to this, our Savior Jesus
proclaims, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one
who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)
“What If…” you and I trust God with abandon?
“What If…” we live with conviction that Ivy Chapel United Church of Christ is Holy Ground?
With the conviction that there are unique and crucial things God fervently wants to accomplish here?
Imagine what could come about!
Where can this Journey lead?
See for yourself. We pray that you will come and see!
Let’s join together - Growing the Vine Together.
Rev. Dan Wilson
Pastor, Ivy Chapel United Church of Christ
“God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work… Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the Gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with [the saints] and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that God has given you. Thanks be to God for God’s indescribable gift!”
2 Corinthians 9:8,13-15
Trust these words.
Trust in God’s provision.