1. Bonnie – Picture on the book is upside down because it is a weird church. 🙂

    There were seven of us who met on Sunday night.. As we said, come when you can.

    We started out with introductions and then began talking about the Spiral Dynamic Memes. We discussed Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth and the life; No one comes to the Father except through me.” and named how folks in the various color memes might interpret or understand those words. We had this discussion partly to get more comfortable with Spiral Dynamics and partly to talk about our faith in this culture.

    Dave had a couple of handouts that were helpful also in getting more of a grasp on the colors.
    until we figure out if we can add attachments to the blog, I add these notes that I picked up from
    david’s material and my learning. Spiral Dynamics reflects a world view; a value system; a belief structure; a way of thinking.
    Each meme can manifest itself in a healthy or unhealthy form. We move back and forth between the memes (colors)
    We move between the colors -millennials in our culture as a group are in the green to yellow colors.

    For some additional fun and discussion, we talked about my sermon from the morning and what colors I was addressing and the color of the sermon itself.

    With two former Methodists in our group and noticing our own declining worship attendance, we named our fear about the future of the church. We don’t want UCC to close as several Methodist churches have. We named the hope promised and the continuing need to keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ alive. How do we do that?

    This morning (Tuesday, June 27) I add – we connect with the Holy Spirit, we pray, seek the Spirit’s guidance. And we remember that UCC has a particular ministry. We have a ministry of inclusion; we have a mission to reach out into the community to those who are in need in any number of ways. We talked in our group about the strength and history of UCC Neillsville’s mission emphasis.

    One of the focuses from the 2nd chapter of the book was on moving from inside the church to into the community. So we
    talked about how to reach out to folks – what is our church called to do? Several members had already been thinking about having block parties in their neighborhoods to get to know their neighbors. And then we wondered what is a next step…- how does one welcome folks in a way that shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ without pushing folks away.

    Barb P told about Health Assessments that take place in each county and how those assessments can give us valuable information about the needs of our community. We talked about more folk being hungry than we are likely aware of in Neillsville. We wondered about having a soup kitchen in our community. or an end of month Saturday night community meal. We talked about our Back Pack Ministry and our partnership with Cummins and the School to make that ministry possible. We wondered how we could make known to the community our involvement in this ministry I suggested probably with a newspaper article.

    We talked about the value of our Milwaukee Urban Immersion Trip for adults. Is it time to organize one? Anyone interested?
    We also talked about the number of youth who have been confirmed recently – how do we reach them. I know I need to go to ball games. We wondered about a Wednesday night brief worship service after Confirmation/ CDs for parents as well as youth.

    It was again a good discussion that led in many directions.

    Lots of ideas tossed into the mix of how do we do church in this culture. How do we share our faith in Jesus Christ in a way that is meaningful for people in our church and community. what does God call us to do.
    I invite others to add to my comments, to add their own questions and ideas – to make suggestions. Where does the book, where does our discussion lead you?

  2. A few items caught my attention from chapters 1 and 2
    Pg. 2: “we could soon be looking at a Christian future as grim as what we currently see in Scandinavia.” I did some quick searches on Google and from what I gathered is more people consider themselves spiritual but not necessarily Christian.

    Pg 11: “There could be a rediscovery of scripture my mid century that will rival the Great Awakenings. That rediscovery almost certainly will embrace more than simply the Old and New Testaments. It will likely include the Bhagavad Gita and the Koran.” That wold be an interesting service.

    Pg 17: it states that when a movement becomes an institution, it gets bogged down in the 80/20 rule.

  3. Ken, I agree with your first comment. I was disappointed on my recent trip to Holland when I realized family members who had been going to church regularly a few years ago, did not even attend worship on Easter Sunday. I also see the decline of involvement in the church here. While faith in God, trusting in Jesus, and prayers may continue to be important in the lives of the spiritual but not religious; they also find themselves without a community that supports, encourages and challenges them to keep the faith and be true to the Gospel. The church needs to figure out how to support them on their journey when they are ready to receive the help.
    I also think folks are more into a variety of faiths… and sometimes folks think that what they believe is Christian; but it is not – as in reincarnation which Hindu. At the same time, some also get more out of meditation or centering prayer than worship, unaware that mindfulness can be shaped into a Christian discipline.
    Concerning various faith traditions in worship services…I have used Native American Prayers in a wedding as requested. At our National meeting of the UCC a variety of prayers from different faiths are often used… sometimes reinterpreting them into a Christian understanding. Native American Prayers may be used, as may Pacific Islander prayers or Native Hawaiian Prayers. The General Synod meets this week and much of it is streamed on line… at ucc.org I particularly encourage watching the Sunday afternoon worship service- at 1:30 CST.
    I do think more of the Old and New Testament will be read and interpreted with new eyes in the years to come.
    The church has become more an institution than a movement. We do need to get out of the building which is one way the institution is symbolized. The 80/20 rule is true. Our paid staff (me in particular) is likely more than 20% of the budget. I would not say our paid staff do 80% of the ministry. More often the 80/20 rule describes the 20% of the membership who do and pay for 80% of the ministry. That 20% gets tired and frustrated that others do not join them in doing more to support the ministry.

  4. July 16
    Chapter 3
    p. 28 “Citizenship no longer means Christian.” Agree –Disagree? What do you think?
    p. 30 “ A growing number of people, both laity and clergy, are embracing the end of Christendom as a gift to the Jesus movement.” What do you see as the difference between the two? And, yes, I tend to agree… the change from Christianity as an expected way of life to following Jesus as a particular way of life can revive the faith and faithful.

    p. 32 Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it.” This is worth praying about and reflecting on. What makes you come alive? If you don’t know, maybe someone close to you has noticed what causes you to come to life with joy and passion.

  5. July 16
    Chapter 4
    With who and what partners does UCC currently do our ministry? How can we partner with them and others in the future to improve life and maybe even bring about the Kingdom of God in Neillsville/Clark County?

    Some of us have talked about church finances and the decline of worship attendance. We are aware of the high costs of insurance and of raising youth with not only clothing and food costs but also the extra-curricular costs that are part of the lifestyle of 2017. It is also likely more so than in the past benevolent giving is spread over more organizations than just the church. Multi-generational families are stretched in time and finances – pulled in many directions. The church will have to change its ways. What ways do you see as possibilities that might encourage us and future generations to learn and follow in the teachings of Jesus Christ?

    Curious – in what ways can we partner with the athletic programs church members everywhere see as taking many families away from worship? Sure we can sponsor teams – but I am wondering are there ways we can further God’s love and our love for children and neighbor through our ministry? Maybe there are ways we can support parents. What do you think? Parents and grandparents – are there ways you want to be supported as you strive to be followers of Jesus?

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