October 2007

Congregational Transformation has at least three pillars. It must be Spiritual, Systematic and Sensitive.

Spiritual transformation deals with our individual and shared community life. Personal spiritual transformation requires reaffirmation, recommitment and reclaiming your:

  • salvation through grace–
      • Romans 51 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
  • commitment to live your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ
    • Prayer Time – Time to talk and listen to God
    • Bible Study – Learning how to live as a follower of Christ as you participate in Living in Faith Everyday small group studies
    • Worship Celebrating God’s goodness in our lives
    • Service – Providing the needs of those in need
    • Sharing – Sharing your faith journey with pre Christians
    • Fellowshipping with other believers

Faith community transformation includes

  • Celebration of God’s Goodness in Worship
  • Community prayer times

Systematic transformation means that every ministry team and committee in the church is engaged in the process. The transformation includes the front office and how we provide administration. The transformation includes the worship ministry team and how they approach designing worship services around the ministry themes. Systematic transformation includes the choir and the types of music that will be sung. The trustees are being transformed as they make decisions that will ensure that our facilities are safe and prepared to house the ministries that are in existence and those that are in development. The church council will be experiencing transformation as they will be challenged to make decisions based on the churches mission, vision and values. Systematic transformation takes time, a lot of time. It will take 3-5 years for us to begin to see significant change. Staying the course will not be easy and true transformation is not a linear process. We may experience quick results in some areas and slower results in others with no predictive indicators about which one we will experience.

Sensitive transformation means that the leaders are sensitive to how the pace of change is affecting our lives together. Some people can absorb weekly changes to everything from the bulletin to the styles of music being chosen. These people usually like variety and diversity and would easily be bored with everything being the same all of the time. This segment of the population is small in comparison to the group of people who seek to experience stability in their congregational life. Nuances of change bring great anxiety because, “We’ve always done it this way”, “ We have been told that this is the right way, “ or “Why should anything change, we have done it this way successfully for 40 years.” These values that members share must be embraced as change takes place. Sensitive transformation acknowledges the fact that the church has developed a culture over many years. There needs to be several places for sacred listening so that the concerns of the congregants can be expressed without negative evaluations, unnecessary critique and personal attacks. There needs to be training and education that provides logical transitions from the established paradigms of church into the new paradigms.

Transformation is never easy but the rough edges can be smoothed out if the leaders share the plan that God has given you, assist the leaders to embrace the plan, communicate the plan constantly and if we care more about the people than the transformation.

If the mainline church is going to revitalize its urban churches we need to look at new ways of reaching out to the communities around our dying churches.  We first need to get over the phobia of evangelism, it is scriptural and a mark of being a disciple.  Servant evangelism seems to be a non threatening way to develop this discipline.

Bottled water has become the indispensable prop in our lives and our culture. It starts the day in lunch boxes; it goes to every meeting, lecture hall, and soccer match; it’s in our cubicles at work; in the cup holder of the treadmill at the gym; and it’s rattling around half-finished on the floor of every minivan in America. Fiji Water shows up on the ABC show Brothers & Sisters; Poland Spring cameos routinely on NBC’s The Office. Every hotel room offers bottled water for sale, alongside the increasingly ignored ice bucket and drinking glasses. At Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFMI), the upscale emporium of the organic and exotic, bottled water is the number-one item by units sold.

Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water. The global economy has contrived to deny the most fundamental element of life to 1 billion people, while delivering to us an array of water “varieties” from around the globe, not one of which we actually need. That tension is only complicated by the fact that if we suddenly decided not to purchase the lake of Poland Spring water in Hollis, Maine, none of that water would find its way to people who really are thirsty.

What is our response as Christians who believe in social justice?  Do we purchase the water and send it to the places where safe drinking water is needed?  Are we willing not to purchase a bottle of water from a company who does not drill wells or provide water for the indigenous communities where the water is not accessible to the people who actually work to provide us with this convenience.

Worldwide, 1 billion people have no reliable source of drinking water; 3,000 children a day die from diseases caught from tainted water.

This type of injustice should motivate us to take action.  We can offer prayers, and form discernment committees but really the people who are without water really need us to find ways to get water to their villages and towns.  Before you tell me that I am asking too much, read this.

So Quartey and his wife Grace, 40, also a Ghana native and a certified public accountant, founded the nonprofit Building Solid Foundations Inc., to ease the water crisis in their homeland, where their parents and most of their families still live.

The couple asked fellow members of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in York to get involved.

“It’s divine,” says Grace Quartey of the resulting ministry. “I just believe God has his hand in this because how we all met and the group we have together is nothing more than a miracle.”

Even a cynic would be struck by events that turned the Quarteys’ dream into a $450,000 clean water project.

We can make a difference whether we challenge the water bottling companies or help build water towers and drill wells.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.  We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability — and that it may take a very long time.
 And so I think it is with you.  Your ideas mature gradually — let them grow. Let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
 –Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955)

Top Five Reasons Dropouts Identify as Major Factors For Leaving School

  Classes were not interesting                                                47%

 Missed too many days and could not catch up                    43%

 Spent time with people who were not interested in school               42%

 Had too much freedom and not enough rules in my life                    38%

 Was failing in school                         35%

The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts


Urban Ministry comes with some unique challenges.  Many of the systemic urban challenges include multiple areas of disparities that cripple and debilitate the community.  Drug addiction, lack of access to healthcare, economic, job, income and education disparities all impact most urban areas.  I believe education disparities are the biggest challenge that urban ministries can tackle and win with collaboration between the school systems and other churches.

The number of suburban churches who have retired professionals, entrepreneurs with flexible schedules and families who can embrace and model the value of education is simply incredible.  If these churches with their vast resources actually saw the benefit of strengthening the educational infrastructure for society as a whole, we could see a reversal in the drop out trends within a decade.

Urban churches have the facilities and the networks inside the community to develop effective programs.  The question has been asked why should churches and ministries get involved?  Because we not only teach character and moral values but we also live the values that we want our young people to have.  This is the best opportunity to disciple youth where there are that I know of in an urban context.

To be a 21st Century missional, emergent, disciple focused ministry  challenges us to see opportunities to reach people for Christ outside of our own cultural context.  It also demands partnering with other ministries who have spiritual, cultural, financial and community engagement strengths that will compliment our ministry.

I was reading Rev. Theresa Coleman’s blog this morning and read this prayer by St. Augustine.  The imagery was so vivid I decided to repost it here for our readers.

Morning Prayer — Augustine

O Love of God, descend into my heart;
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling,
And scatter there Your cheerful beams.
Dwell in the soul that longs to be Your temple;
Water that barren soil overrun with weeds and briars
And lost for lack of cultivating.
Make it fruitful with Your dew.

Come, dear Refreshment of those who languish;
Come, Star and Guide of those who sail amidst tempests.
You are the Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked.
Come now, Glory and Crown of the living,
As well as the Safeguard of the dying.
Come, Sacred Spirit;
Come, and make me fit to receive You.

— St. Augustine


If you want to be certain that all within the sound of your voice can hear God’s word loud and clear, plan to attend the Bose Church Sound System Seminar on Saturday, November 10, 2007, 10 a.m. to approximately 2 p.m., at West Baltimore United Methodist Church, 5130 Greenwich Ave. in Baltimore.

The seminar will cover the basics of microphone selection, how to use the mixer and more advanced components of the sound system, speaker line arrays, DSP controllers and much more. A presentation will also be given on video projection systems and presentation software. This seminar is geared for those involved in their church sound systems. We will also feature a live praise band to help with the demonstrations.

A five-pack of Alvex dynamic microphones will be given away—a $500. value!


To attend, e-mail dave@daveaudio.com or call 410-747-5134.
Visit http://www.daveaudio.com for more information.

Rev. William T Chaney Jr
West Baltimore UMC
5130 Greenwich Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21229

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