Relevant and Approachable - Issue #132
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"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…" The word go in this well-known portion of the Great Commission is more accurately translated "As you are going…" meaning as you are engaging in your everyday affairs, make disciples. This points toward the need to meet people where they are geographically and culturally.
Scott United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana has heeded the call to go and engage people in culturally relevant Christian ministry and outreach. The congregation celebrates and promotes cultural awareness both in worship and in its work with the community. For example, worship attendees learn about the Christian history and cultural contributions of people from the African diaspora, and Black youth in the community learn what to do if stopped by the police.
The community influence of Scott UMC is extended through a separately incorporated ministry which focuses on leadership development in the Black community. In particular, it encourages asking critical questions such as: How are leaders chosen in the Black community? Are those whom the media spotlights the actual leaders who speak for the community? What is the role of the Black church in leadership development? In some cases, the questions lead to the organization of leadership councils that field community concerns and determine appropriate action.
Members of Scott UMC invite youth and young adults to share their artistic skills through open mic poetry experiences. In addition to poetry, some participants sing gospel songs and hymns. These are just some of the ways that Scott UMC bears witness "as they are going" through their everyday affairs. By so doing, the community recognizes Scott UMC as relevant and approachable — important precursors in developing a relationship between the church and community members.
Questions for Discussion
What opportunities exist for your church to celebrate the cultures of people in your neighborhood?
What cultural bridges or gaps exist between your congregation and its surrounding community?
What might your congregation do to help the community recognize the church as relevant and approachable?