I like to write about spirituality, and I like to share what encouragement I find in scripture with others. But Church newsletters are hard for me. Invariably the end of the month comes, and I know I must produce an article for you all, but I don’t know what to say, and I wonder who reads these and if it is worthwhile. I sometimes ask my family members what they’d like to read if they were in the mood to read a church newsletter. They tell me they are never in the mood.
Isaiah 55:11 says that God’s word doesn’t return void, but “it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” I believe that the extent that I speak the words God gives me, that they mean something, but it doesn’t make the task of sitting down to write a newsletter easy. Sometimes I stare at a blank page, sometimes I look at what other pastors in other places write to their congregation in their monthly missals. But usually I sit back and ask, What is it that Klamath Falls United Methodist Church needs to hear right now? And I wait.
God is with us as a congregation, that God cares for us. I know church, and our church, is facing challenges right now. We are an aging congregation, and post Covid-19, some of the folks that regularly warmed the pew next to you are not in worship. This is not unusual, a year of not going to church and another year of restrictions broke the worship habit many of us had, and those of us who remain are increasingly called upon to keep the ship running.
As your pastor, I am aware of the institutional challenges of keeping things running. When there is a lull in congregational giving, I feel it. In a post pandemic world, I don’t take it personally. The fact that giving is down is more to do with lackluster attendance and economic inflation. But here is the thing, I don’t think that God is done with us yet. I am grateful for the way that First United Methodist Church of Klamath Falls inhabits our community. Until recently, we fed our neighbors twice a week (and more because they took grocery items home from the Palm dinners which helped allay their weekly expenses). In a post P.A.L.M. world, I am excited to press into the ways that KFUMC meets our neighbors with the love of Jesus.
The question that haunts me as a pastor is this: What difference does our church make for the community at large? Until recently, my answer was P.A.L.M. but as we discern the way forward in our post-P.A.L.M era, my question for the congregation, our council, and leadership, is how do we continue to impact the community after P.A.L.M? At the beginning of September, we hosted a block party where we got to meet our neighbors. I believe that God still has a plan for us and that our church can make a real-life impact in the life of our community. Do you believe this? We have reached a new season in the life the church, that requires imagination, discernment and awareness as we seek to meet the needs of Klamath Falls. God is with us as we step out in faith!