Hope and Renewal - Issue #120
McKendree United Methodist Church, a historical downtown congregation in Nashville, Tennessee, has experienced a steady growth in worship attendance over the last few years. The Rev. Stephen Handy, senior pastor, believes the following items have contributed to this growth, making McKendree UMC a place of hope and renewal.
- Everyone is asked to be in a "life group" (small group) of no more than eight people. Groups meet weekly and are designed to be missional, disciple forming, nurturing, and accountable. Life group members often invite others to join.
- The church is multicultural and multigenerational, with two services, contemporary and traditional. People want to be connected to God, so the church avoids making the style of worship an obstacle by offering choices.
- The church talks about spiritual disciplines a lot, but also now more and more about generosity -- not just money, but time, work, energy, and prayer.
- The word is out on the streets that McKendree invites diversity, and a diverse church is a healthy church. The worship and small groups encourage a holistic approach to health -- mind, body, and spirit. McKendree also provides a wellness clinic, a community organic rooftop garden, and a free clothing closet.
- McKendree collaborates with other entities such as the Veterans Administration and the Homeless Commission.Church members are on the streets and in the community, not just in the building.
- McKendree meets people where they are. Staff spend time engaging people in conversation on the streets and in the downtown coffee shops. Each week, "The Encounter" offers a music, message, and missional challenge in a downtown coffee shop.
Some Questions for Discussion
- What is the "word on the street" about your congregation?
- How are you encouraging people to be healthy -- in mind, body, and spirit?
- How are you encouraging a spirit of generosity in your congregation?