Ministry With - Issue #149
Lander United Methodist Church in Lander, Wyoming, is well known in the area for its Thrift Shop. Initially a mission project of the United Methodist Women, the store now has its own building and involves a crew of 40-50 volunteers from the congregation and the local community.
While the store brings in revenues of nearly $60,000 per year, raising money has never been its main purpose. The store's reason for existence is the opportunity it provides to be in service with neighbors for the common good of all. And as a side effect, the store has become a hub of connections with the local community.
Congregational or group mission projects that become as large and require as many volunteers as the United Methodist Thrift Store in Lander run the risk of consuming most of the time, skills, mission resources, and focus of a congregation. Instead, the Lander UMC's mission team works to help it be a channel that sparks the imagination of the congregation and the town for many other ways they may be directly involved in God's "ministry with" the people of Lander and, ultimately, around the world.
From meeting and getting to know thrift store customers face-to-face, an increasing number of thrift store volunteers and others are helping the church strengthen its connections with a local school backpack program and the local food bank. Others are involved in the planning of mission trips domestically, internationally, and to the UMCOR Depot in Salt Lake City. The church sees more opportunities for expanding its capacity to serve through the Yellowstone Conference's Angola Partnership.
Seeds planted years ago by a faithful United Methodist Women's group and nurtured to maturity by the congregation and community are creating an ecosystem for more and more people to experience the transforming power of "ministry with," locally, regionally, and across the globe.
Some Questions for Discussion
- What "ministries with" is your congregation known for?
- Who may be hearing a call to start a new "ministry with," and what do you have in place to help translate that call into action?
- How does your congregation intentionally work to help these opportunities become catalysts for more ministries rather than ends in themselves?