Would Your Church be Missed?
One of the greatest blessings of Christianity is the privilege of having a positive impact on another human being – or better yet – an entire community. But sometimes, under increasing pressures from various sources, churches can forget their purpose and heritage.
To strengthen the collective resolve of the Methodist denomination, Bishop Janice Huie often challenges leaders across the conference with the question, “What is your church doing that your community would miss if you stopped tomorrow?”
Methodist leader Dr. Lovett Weems issues the challenge in another way. He suggests conducting an annual “Mission Audit.” Says Dr. Weems, “To assess a church’s faithfulness to the Wesleyan tradition of serving others, make a list of the people and groups in your community outside your membership who would miss your church. What would they miss? Repeat the exercise a year later and look to see if the is list longer or shorter.”
Paul Horton UMC Puts Itself to the Test
Pastor Mariann Rayne recently incorporated this question into a sermon to challenge the congregation of Paul Horton UMC in Point Blank. One of the church leaders did some soul searching in an informal ‘mission audit’ and submitted the following comments, recapping the many reasons Paul Horton UMC would be missed.
“In 2008, the Texas Annual Conference selected Paul Horton UMC for the Copeland Award for being a loving, caring and giving congregation through prayer. The award was for churches with less than 100 members. It is a prestigious award for this little church. My thoughts are that if something happened to our beloved Paul Horton UMC, the people of the church, this community and the world would suffer a heart-wrenching loss. Here are 12 reasons why:
o Inspired by Acts 2:46, the people of this church meet at least once a week to worship together, share the Lord's Supper and our meals with great joy and generosity and welcome anyone who walks in the door.
o We are active in Spiritual Formation and Fellowship through Sunday School, UMM, Women in Christ and Bible Studies. The Prayer Warriors have met for years to lift up prayer requests.
o I remember the game nights, movies, women's retreat, Watch Night on New Year's Eve and other events this church has held.
o It was exciting when several teens were baptized in Lake Livingston and MYF brought many youth to the church on Sundays.
o Hundreds of community children have attended Vacation Bible School over the years and many families and friends return each year for Homecoming to remember ‘the good old days’.
o In terms of outreach efforts generously supported by Paul Horton UMC: If this church didn't exist, the children at the Coldspring elementary school would not have received 67 pairs of shoes, 637 pairs of new underwear, 125 pairs of socks, 10 backpacks, 23 pairs of jeans, 39 miscellaneous clothing items and the teachers would not have received $250 gift cards to help them purchase school supplies over the last four years. Members have fed Back Pack Buddies and the community’s poor over many a summer. Every fall several members pray and walk around the schools and the county courthouse. They are warmly welcomed and thanked by teachers and people who see them on the streets.
o The congregation provides donations to Care/Share, Inc., the county's food pantry, and gifts to children and essential items for families in need during the Christmas season.
o For several years, members have visited Town Creek Retirement Community every month in Huntsville (30 miles away), to give the shut-ins a birthday party with cake, ice cream and gifts, as well as a Christmas party with gifts.
o Over the years, hundreds of fleece prayer blankets have been prayed over and sent to those who need the warmth of God's love, along with a stuffed bear to provide blessings to people all over the world.
o For the past couple of years, the Sewing Ministry has made items from special fabric to be sold at Conference to support African school children. The Bishop was presented a quilt made by this ministry. Recently, a member made several quilts, bibs, diapers and caps for a Moldovian orphanage in an area quilting bee.
o The congregation supports the Methodist Children's Home in Waco, the Methodist Retirement communities and missionaries.
o The community looks forward to the church's annual events, such as Lenten and Holy Week services, Advent season, the spaghetti dinners and the chili sold at the area garage sale.
Would Paul Horton UMC be missed if it didn't exist? The 1932 building could be gone, but I am confident that each person in the church would use his/her gifts to carry on the Lord's work in any community in which he/she lives. The people of Paul Horton UMC are strong in faith and it wouldn't matter if they worshiped in homes or other places, as long as they were together, doing God's work.”