Reaching Out and Plugging In — Issue #139
Interested in engaging non-church people? How about those who may be averse to Christianity? Those are the people that the Valley and Mountain Fellowship in Rainier, Washington, want to get to know. They achieve their goal by designing ministry based on their core values: deep listening, creative liberation, and radical hospitality. This new church is built upon a vision that
- the ability to listen helps you to encounter God, build relationships across boundaries, and live with integrity;
- the church needs to plug into the strong movements of the Spirit already taking place, working with other community organizations to share assets and address needs; and
- authentic community that leads to mature spiritual lives can happen in the midst of diverse beliefs and backgrounds.
Two Sundays a month, the congregation gathers for celebration. They begin with singing, sharing, and a reflection. Then they break into groups focusing on different spiritual practices, such as meditation, art, yoga, or making sandwiches for the homeless. They end their celebration with discussion and fellowship as they eat together.
During the week, Valley and Mountain Fellowship participants may join the men's group, the women's group, or "Great Mysteries on Tap." Meeting at a local restaurant for "Great Mysteries," participants hear about some theological aspect of the faith from a variety of viewpoints. Then they talk together about what they've heard.
John Helmiere, the congregation's Minister of Listening and Convener, says that many people who are turned off by Christianity have found the Valley and Mountain Fellowship's approach to be appealing and are willing to give it a try. They have developed a genuine community of people who love one another and who are finding spiritual vitality. Together, they are learning to be a multicultural, urban, and missional church.
Some Questions for Discussion
- How does your congregation engage people who may be averse to Christianity?
- What are your congregation's core values? How are you living them out?
- Where are people in your congregation and community finding spiritual vitality and genuine community?