Issue 274 — March 24, 2016
An Experimental Missional Faith Community
What do you do when the neighborhood is composed mostly of college and graduate students who are present only 30 weeks out of the year, and whose average stay in the neighborhood might be about 18 months?
If you’re the South Georgia Annual Conference, you commission a faith community uniquely positioned to connect with this vibrant and highly transitional neighborhood at the edge of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The name of the faith community, and the coffee shop it has founded as its interface with the neighborhood is The Foundery.
Like the original Foundery, the first Methodist Society fully led by John and Charles Wesley, much that Savannah’s Foundery Coffee Pub pursues is experimental. Its leaders and participants continue to learn what the shape of ministry is and can be in their context as they go. And they’ve come to rely on such experimentation, grounded in Wesleyan principles of evangelism and discipling, as their core best practice.
Take worship, for example. Because of the highly variable schedules of the folks in their neighborhood, the Foundery Coffee Pub learned a once-monthly gathering on Mondays at 7 p.m. seems to work best. At the same time, having only a monthly meeting for this larger group gathering means some loss of continuity from gathering to gathering. So they’ve identified two core practices that hold them steady and give these the most attention. In a place like Savannah, and a community with a high proportion of SCAD students, you might think it would be art or music. Turns out, it’s prayer and Holy Communion, and music plays hardly any role at all. Rev. Kev, as the Foundery’s appointed pastor is called by customers and community alike, is himself a musician, but, as a good missiologist, hasn’t tried to impose his preferences on what the community there can do best.
Being a steady community place—a safe place for conversation, great coffee, and connection—has led to connections with other ministries in the neighborhood. The Episcopal Campus Ministry at SCAD offers a weekly service of Compline at 8 p.m. on Sundays, co-led by Rev. Kev and the Episcopal chaplain (also a professor at SCAD). And working together, they discovered a hunger for a discussion-based study group that now meets on Wednesday nights at 8. They call it Common Grounds.
The Foundery Coffee Pub, like its early Methodist namesake, keeps experimenting with method, but it stays committed to a common mission—making disciples of Jesus to transform the world—within its dynamic, fluid context. For more information, visit the Foundery website, thefounderysav.org.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Where are the most fluid, transitional neighborhoods in your wider community? What might your congregation, district, or conference do to establish evangelistic outreach and faith community there?
- If you look at your own worshiping community, what are the most basic essentials you provide for every time? How do those relate to what your surrounding community might identify ?
- Who else in your neighborhood might make a great partner in discovering opportunities for ministry and offering shared ministry together?
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
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