by Rev. Rachel Morey Pastor of Brooklyn Mosaic UMC
When Mosaic was first conceived, we were looking almost entirely at demographics: we were planting in the first minority majority city in the state of Minnesota (Brooklyn Center, with adjacent Brooklyn Park just a few tenths of a percentage point behind), and one of the youngest cities in the Twin Cities metro area (courtesy of the huge influx of immigrants over the last decade from west Africa, Southeast Asia, and various parts of Latin America). Whatever new ministry God was calling us to build, we reasoned, would have to be with an eye toward that reality. Our planting team reflected that: Liberian, Chicano, Korean, and European Americans all gathered to dig into this mission.
This was all true, but not the whole truth we now know. We quickly learned that our vocabulary of "multicultural", "intercultural", and "global" appealed to a very small slice of folks… and not the slice we were aiming for at all. So as we regrouped and we realized we'd gotten God's path for us a bit backwards. In Mark 4, Jesus teaches the parable of the mustard seed and how it is the smallest of seeds, but grows into a great shrub with branches so wide that birds can nest there. We learned that we needed to figure out what kind of plant we were called to be first, rather than try to decide what birds we wanted to nest there!
When we started with that question "What kind of plant is God calling us to BE?" the pieces started falling into place for a service-centered community in fearless and focused engagement with those around us in the name of Jesus. We have a tragically high and growing number of homeless youth in our area, so we partnered with 2 other agencies and one other church to put together the No Hassles Youth Food Shelf, which now serves between 45-60 kids each week. We distribute hygiene items, clothing, food, and we host youth workers from our local YMCA to connect youth with employment, shelter, educational, and addiction resources. We also partner with other youth-related agencies in our area and the Suburban Host Home Program, which trains families to host homeless youth in a non-shelter setting (15 families trained to date!). Mosaic stocks and manages the space of the food shelf, soliciting donations and hosting mission groups that want to do hands-on service.
As a consequence of this focus on what kind of plant God is calling us to be, we have forged and cultivated relationships with many young people in our area who don't have any previous church connection but want to help out in the food shelf. Additionally, most of our service provider partners are working with a faith-based partner for the first time in decades, and this has provided great opportunities to share why Mosaic does what it does. Finally, we are gathering a worship community that crosses age and cultural barriers of folks who feel called to engage with this ministry. The birds are coming to nest, so to speak, now that the plant is starting to grow into God's vision.
Mosaic's pieces are falling into place, and we trust that the Master Artist at work on us will find a use for all of the oddly-shaped, rough, and variously colored bits of stone that are finding their way to this mission. Our sole commitment is now to do exactly what God is calling us to do and nothing more, less, or different. We will let the ministry be what God wants it to be, not what we thought we wished it would be. We are the plant and God calls the birds.
What kind of plant is your church? What type of birds are you attracting?