Just Imagine! - Issue #222 (February 20, 2015)
This is an excerpt from a PDF download. To download the full text of this document, click: Just Imagine!
Little did First United Methodist Church of Bonham, Texas, know what might happen when a spark of imagination was ignited. Founded in 1844, the church has long held a vision of a strong children’s and youth ministry. This vision was reflected in their building plan, which included an extensive educational wing. With that vision before them, they continued to grow. And then, as many other mainline congregations did, they began to experience decline.
This once vibrant church began saying, “When we have more children…” In the meantime, the education wing became filled with furniture, toys, and supplies that were no longer being utilized. And there they waited.
Then the congregation engaged in a stewardship campaign that focused on managing the things with which God had entrusted them. The pastor created a video using the theme of “Imagine.” Images of cluttered rooms in their education wing were superimposed with phrases that evoked positive images. For example, one shot invited the congregation to “imagine a liturgical dance studio for our girls”; the shot then transitioned to an image of girls dancing in a bright, sunny room.
Together the pastor and the congregation began to imagine what could be done with all that great space in the educational wing. Every Thursday they went room by room -- sorting, cleaning, painting, talking, and imagining. They stopped thinking as a declining church and began to think as a growing church, using the mantra, “If we build it, they will come.”
Flash forward several months. Those previously cluttered spaces now contain an “Esther-Liturgical Dance Studio,” a “Campfire Story-time Room,” a “Cook’s Kitchen,” a “Coffee Bistro” for the youth, a “Game Room,” and another western-style classroom.
First UMC is once again a congregation that oozes positive energy. The halls are alive with the laughter of children, and the congregation is filled with a new sense of commitment to their mission. Their joy overflows for the ministry to which God has called them. And it all started with just one spark of imagination.
Questions for Reflection
- What vision was instrumental to the founding of your congregation? How does that vision continue to influence your ministry?
- How does your congregation connect vision, mission, stewardship, and faith formation?
- If you and your congregation were to tour your current facility and imagine to what ministry God might be calling you, what would be the result?