I started a second Pastor Chat on September 19th. This Pastor Chat is being held at the new TransAlta Commons building on the Centralia College campus. In the beginning, we set a time for this Pastor Chat from 9:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. I have had two of our members join me for moral support—Audrey Kimball and Marshall Murray. I sit either at one of the tables with three chairs, or in the midst of the couches where the students hang out, whichever is available. You can see the church bell tower from the main lobby of the TransAlta Commons. I put out a sign next to me that is advertising what I am doing there. It reads: “Pastor Chat with Pastor Tom Peterson of Centralia First United Methodist Church (just down the street at 506 S. Washington Ave.). Stop for the coffee, stay for some conversation. No topic is off limits. No agenda, we just want to get to know you better. This is not endorsed or supported by Centralia College.”
The interactions with the students have been spotty. I have had a couple of students look at my sign and approach me. They wanted to know who I was and what this was all about. I got into a couple of short conversations with them, but most of the students are usually on their way to their next class and they don’t have much time to talk. One student suggested that it might be better if I hold my Pastor Chat during lunch when students have more time to spend. I thought that was a great suggestion, and so I will be moving my time for Collegiate Pastor Chat (as our Facebook page refers to it) from a 9:45 start time to an 11:45 start time, and I plan to eat lunch in the cafeteria.
All of this is an attempt to increase our presence at the college. It is a challenging target audience. Most, if not all of the students, tend to be engaged with some sort of device, whether that is a phone, laptop, or tablet. Getting their attention, or even making eye contact, is not easy. But I hope to become a steady presence at the college every Tuesday. I hope to offer a listening ear to students in need. And I hope to engage some of the students in conversations about the challenges that they face, and to steer the conversation in a spiritual direction when appropriate.
With all the craziness going on in the world today, I believe that the church is more relevant than it has ever been. But this is one thing we must convince others of. It is through the church, and my faith in Jesus Christ, that I am given strength and hope to face each and every day with optimism. The church family has been there for Missy and me in our times of need. Facebook friends are great, but nothing beats having a friend come alongside of you when you are in need. That is what the church provides. I hope to be able to share this message with some of the students at Centralia College.
Sermon Texts, Themes, and Titles for November
We strive to make worship meaningful, relevant, and challenging each and every Sunday. You are challenged to make worship a regular part of your life. You are invited to take some time to read the Scripture and reflect on the passages before each worship service.
November 5th: Compassion for Our Enemies The Scripture Passage will be Luke 10:25-37 and the theme will be the nurturing compassion towards those we don’t like. This will be part three in a three part series on cultivating compassion in our lives.
November 12th: Walk the Talk! The Scripture Passage will be Matthew 23:1-12, and the theme will be the damage of hypocrisy. Illustrations/Notes/Reflections:
November 19th: Guest Preacher. Tom on Vacation.
November 26th: Guest Preacher. Tom on Vacation.
December 3rd: Holy Waiting! The Scripture Passage will be 2 Peter 3:8-15a and the theme will be waiting for the Lord’s coming.
Worship is a vital part of a growing and vibrant faith. So make sure you attend on a regular basis. And bring a friend or two with you. It’s a great way to introduce someone to Jesus.
Centralia First UMC's Strategic Plan
Vision: To practice extravagant hospitality and live out the radical inclusivity that Jesus Christ modeled for us so that all persons find a safe harbor in this church.
There are so many people in our community who have felt unwelcomed by the church in general. Particular subgroups (LGBT and those who struggle with mental illness for example) have been judged and condemned, and often feel that the church is an enemy as opposed to a source of comfort and support.Throughout his ministry, Jesus was constantly reaching out and incorporating into his ministry the disenfranchised and marginalized.His unconditional love and acceptance of others was the catalyst of reconciliation and transformation.
Our target audience is all those who have felt unwelcomed by the Church, as well as the millennial generation who do not see homosexuality as a sin. Given the progressive nature of this vision, those of a more liberal mindset would also be targeted.
One of the first action steps would be for us to launch a study on officially becoming a Reconciling Congregation. The Reconciling Ministries Network only has one official step in becoming a reconciling congregation, and that is to craft a welcoming statement.After the church officially adopts this welcoming statement, individuals would be given the opportunity to declare themselves Reconciling United Methodists.
A second action step in this plan is to rework our published information regarding our church to reflect this change. Newsletters, websites, Facebook page, brochure, etc. would all have to be updated.
A third action step is to establish and nurture a deepening relationship with the student body at Centralia College. In order to reach out to the millennial generation, we would take advantage of our close proximity to Centralia College.Some actions steps include strengthening our connection with the College by holding a Pastor Chat type gathering on a weekly basis at the new Student Union building upon it’s completion.
Another action step is to erect a chalkboard of some sort that engages the students in thought-provoking ways. For example, on the chalkboard are printed, “My Biggest Regret…” and people are invited to share their thoughts.At another time, the words, “Love is…” are printed on the chalkboard, and students are again asked to share their thoughts.This could be an ongoing interaction.Results would be posted on our Facebook page as well as our website.
The timeline for these action steps vary. The goal of becoming a Reconciling Congregation can begin immediately so that it is completed by the end of January 2017.
The chalkboard outreach is in process and should be up by the end of 2016.
And as soon as the TransAlta Student Commons is completed (scheduled to be done by September 2016) we will begin to hold our Pastor Chats there. The hope is to offer the students an opportunity to meet and get to know the pastor, and maybe even engage the pastor in some theological conversation.Hopefully, these contacts will eventually lead to more millennials worshipping in our church.
Benchmarks we will be striving to meet include a greater participation from the LGTQ community in the life of the church.
Another benchmark will be increased participation in worship, outreach, missions, etc. from the millennial generation. The millennial generation is defined as people born between 1977 and 1994.
The stakeholders include the pastor and all the leadership team. They will be primarily responsible for carrying out and sharing this vision.
Most of the action steps do not require any additional funds.
We will begin by sharing our vision with the rest of the leadership team. Their buy in will be key.We will also use publications such as our newsletter to communicate the plan to the congregation.Our website and Facebook page will also be key in spreading the word.