Recently, our small groups had been reading Dottie Escobedo-Frank’s Restart Your Church (Abingdon, 2012). We had two groups that were meeting, a mid-week group which met in the afternoon on days that I had office hours, and an after-church group, which met on Sundays. The mid-week group blazed through the book, but the after-church group couldn’t finish until near the end of August.
One of our thoughts behind the book study was that the pandemic had put worship on hold, so as we were getting back to a sense of normal meant we had to restart our church and it seemed like the right time to think about what sort of church we wanted to come back to. In both small groups we talked about where our church has struggled, the problems we have as a church community, and we dreamt together about what sorts of things we could do and be as a church.
During our final week, I asked what sort of church we wanted to become. We decided as a group that we wanted to be a church that:
· Was making a difference in people’s lives
· That communicated welcome
· That made time for us to share deeply with one another
· That got involved in the wider community of Klamath Falls
These are good goals and ones that I hope we live into, but I didn’t want to leave it in the abstract. So I asked, “What are some actionable steps we can take?”
We talked about the ‘upstairs church’ going downstairs and joining PALM—serving but also getting to know the people whose lives we touch through that ministry. We talked about being the Presence of Christ at community events and discovering where the Spirit of God is already at work in Klamath Falls. We talked about taking conscious steps to be the Church outside of our church walls, discovering what is going on in the community and getting involved in it.
One exciting way that we got to practice this recently was when our church joined in at Klamath Falls’ first Pride Festival on August 21. Our LGBTQIA+ neighbors are used to only hearing words of judgment and condemnation from the Christian church, and we got to be there and share our support and the love and welcome of Christ!
We are on a journey together, and in lots of ways we are just getting (re)started! But I am excited to pastor a church making an impact in our neighborhoods and in our city. I will be intentional about looking for things we can do to make a difference in people’s lives!