Tonight we had our first gathering of people who have expressed an interest in being part of this new church we're planting. It was an informal kind of gathering at our house, around the dining room table. There were eight adults -- fewer than we'd hoped, but there are several others who have expressed an interest who ended up not being able to be with us -- plus two kids. We're trusting that the people who were supposed to be with us were there; that there were no accidents or coincidences; that it's all part of God's vision.
And the energy was good! We shared great fellowship and laughter around the table as we chowed down on Latin cuisine from La Familia, a new restaurant that just opened in our neighborhood. These people didn't know each other, so there was a nice extended period of conversation to begin to get acquainted.
Then between dinner and dessert (a deeeee-licious apple-cranberry-currant pie that we got from the Rosemont Market in our neighborhood, with ice-cream, of course, plus peanut butter cookies that Cally made) Sara and I shared our vision for the community of faith we hope to develop. The Holy Spirit was alive, and it was clear that those in the room shared our vision, were excited about the core values we described, and are committed to be part of this movement! Several shared how the time was perfect for them for various reasons, and nearly everyone shared their excitement, in one way or another, to be part of this community, as well as their sense of connecting with the core values we're proposing.
We will get together again for another one of these dinner & conversation gatherings, and then very soon we'll be starting a weekly small group focusing on discipleship, leadership development, evangelism, and visioning. Over time, we hope these small groups will multiply, with leaders emerging from this first group, until we have around 12 small groups meeting in various locations around the greater Portland area.
Here are some of the early thoughts that we shared on a handout... These are by no means formal statements. It's not our official mission statement or vision statement, and nothing here is carved in stone... maybe carved in Jello, but definitely not stone. These are just some early descriptive statements. Feel free to share observations, questions, feedback... whatever you got, let us have it!
Our Desire: to follow Christ faithfully, individually and in our life together
Our Goal: to create a new United Methodist community of faith in Portland, Maine to reach out to non-Christians and nominal Christians, those with doubts and those with faith, those who’ve had a bad experience with church, and those who have never experienced Christian community, with a particular desire to reach the younger generations noticeably absent from most mainline churches.
Our Name: new light - a United Methodist community of faith
Tagline: rethinking what it means to follow Christ
Rationale for name:
popular expression: “seeing things in a new light”
- “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43: 19)
- Jesus: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)
- And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ (Revelation 21:5)
- “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)
- “What has come into being in [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1: 3-5)
- “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’”(John 8:12)
- Jesus: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14-16)
- “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
· community: deepening relationships
· authenticity: being real
· inclusivity and hospitality: all are welcome
· grace: God’s free gift of love and forgiveness which we do nothing to earn or deserve
· creativity: the arts, music, dance, and more!
· service: caring for those in need in Portland and beyond
· Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God, with a strong focus on peace and justice
· transformation: of ourselves, of the world
· everyone in ministry: God has given each of us different gifts, and God calls each of us to use these gifts in ministry
· stewardship of the earth: God’s Creation
· generous stewardship of our resources
Our Focus: loving God, loving our neighbors, making disciples as we go (Jesus’ words in The Great Commandment and The Great Commission)
Matthew 22: 34-40 The Great Commandment
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 28: 16-20 The Great Commission
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
How can you be part of this?
· participate in the first small group forming this fall
· pray for this ministry, for our life together, for our leaders, and for God’s guidance in your own life
· invest in relationships – with people you already know and with people you meet
· invite friends to join you – pray about whom God is calling you to invite
So... these are our humble beginnings! Sara and I are so excited to see where this journey will lead. We have a strong sense that God is doing something big, and we're just making ourselves available. Will you pray for us?