Around Faith UMC we talk a lot about what it means to BE church rather than church as a building or programs. There’s quite a bit of difference in those two understandings of “church”.
Years ago my child wanted to play soccer. We signed up for FFPS, which stands for fun, fair, positive soccer. As she was a beginner, it seemed a better place to start than the competitive leagues. The key difference between FFPS and the league soccer wasn’t that every child had a positive experience (which is what the advertising told us) but in the organization structure.
The competitive leagues were set up so parents could watch games and practices. Paid coaches and trainers worked with the students. Parents paid for uniforms and equipment, and brought water or gatorade for their child.
In FFPS, parents ran the program. One parent volunteered to be the coach (hopefully with another volunteering as assistant coach). Another parent arranged practice times and a field. Another parent organized portrait day. Yet another parent found a team sponsor and got team shirts printed. And still another organized volunteers for game day snacks. Finally, someone organized the pep rally/parade for first game day, and someone else organized the end of season party.
One model uses paid professionals who have expertise to provide a service. The other model involves the family in an experience.
Church can be like those two models. A place you go to, with programs provided by paid staff. Or a place where everyone is needed. Where if you’re not there, you are missed. Where your skills and talents are necessary.
The FFPS model of soccer didn’t end up on my child’s college application as a high point of excellence, or garner any scholarships. The family had fun together, including grandparents, siblings, and divorced parents. It wasn’t easy, people had to do things they didn’t quite know how to do, sometimes in the rain or the heat, people had to learn new things and get out of their comfort zone.
Certainly these aren’t the only models of church. For this discussion, think about those two models. Is Faith UMC being church? or are we somewhere in between the two models? Do people feel needed or missed at Faith? Are their skills used? Are they challenged? How are all generations included?
The church staff thinks often about these questions. What do you think?