Most every Thursday night you can find Missy and myself walking a 5K (that’s 3.2 miles) somewhere through the streets of Centralia. That’s because we joined a running/walking club called Run Amok a couple years back. The starting and ending points are always at O’Blarney’s Irish Pub, but the routes differ from week to week. We have been doing this for a couple of years now, and have accumulated several shirts in the process (you earn the right to buy a shirt every 7 or so walks). This club has grown rapidly. It’s gotten to the point that if you are not in Run Amok, I recommend that you avoid downtown Centralia Thursday evenings.
It’s the growth of the club that fascinates me. This started out as just a few people a couple of years ago. Now, any given Thursday there will be 250 or so people there. Every week, there are new people there. Many people are new to walking, or any fitness routine of any kind. You can pick them out of the crowd. They are also noticeable on the course by the way they are struggling to finish the 5K. But they are there, and they are making a new commitment to live a healthier lifestyle. There’s a core group that is there every week, rain or shine. And then there are people like Missy and myself who go when all the stars align correctly (suspect that this represents a majority of the club members). The weather has to be decent, and we have to get done with our work in time to make it down there. This summer has been exceptionally helpful in making us go every week. We’ve almost earned the right to buy a Run Amok hat (one must have 75 run/walks under one’s belt). But the growth of the club has come almost entirely from word of mouth. There was an article in the Chronicle about the club when it first started, but now it’s clear that when a new person shows up, it is because someone has told them about it and invited them.
The parallels to the church are easy to see. The church, too, has a core group that is at every Sunday worship service, and every other church event for that matter, no matter what. These folks can tell you whether they’ll be in worship three weeks ahead of time. They rarely miss, and if they do, it’s because they are either very sick or out of town. The church also has folks who only make it when all the stars align correctly. They are committed to the church, but often lead very busy lives in which outside influences can keep them from making it to worship. And it’s also true that the church has always grown through word of mouth. Personal invitation is still the best method for getting new people to try our church. Our website and Facebook page help, but it’s the personal touch that typically gets people through our door that very first time.
People invite others to Run Amok because they get a lot out of it, it’s fun, and it has the potential of changing a persons life for the better. I believe that all the same things can be said of church. We get a lot out of it, it’s a lot of fun, and it has a remarkable potential to transform for the better those who attend. It’s transformative because we offer people Christ. So I challenge you to invite a friend, or neighbor, or family member to church with you. They will thank you for it. I’ll see you in church.
Sermon Texts, Themes, and Titles for October
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.
October 1st: God Is Self-Sacrificing! The Scripture passage will be John 10:1-21, and the theme will be God’s sacrificial work on our behalf.
October 8th: God Is Love! The Scripture passages will be 1 John 4:9–10; Romans 5:6–8, and the theme will be the unconditional love God has for us. This will conclude our 5 part series.
October 15th: How Quickly We Forget! The Scripture Passage will be Exodus 32:1-14, and the theme will be remembering God’s faithfulness.
October 22nd: Compassion for Self The Scripture Passage will be Matthew 22:34-40, and the theme will be the nurturing compassion for ourselves. This will be part one in a three part series on cultivating compassion in our lives.
October 29th: Compassion for Others The Scripture Passage will be John 8:1-11 and the theme will be the nurturing compassion for others. This will be part two in a three part series on cultivating compassion in our lives.
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.
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.