Issue 271 — March 3, 2016
"We Don't Want to Die"
“We desperately need a new vision! We don’t want to die!” exclaimed a faithful member of a small rural church in De Smet, South Dakota. Congregants saw their church sliding into demise and threw out this plea for help. They did NOT want to go down like the Titanic.
With the help of an invited group facilitator, the De Smet United Methodist Church spent time along with their then UCC pastor in reflection talking about things like “Why God?” “Why church?” and “Why this church?” Through a group process, they discovered that their niche as a church was family, and they sought to share that gift with the community around them.
They began a love feast on a regular basis, inviting people from the community. More than ministry with the poor, the love feast was an opportunity for the congregation to live out their calling to make disciples by offering the gift of family to those in the community. The De Smet congregation was very intentional that “family” meant that everyone is an equal member at the table. Each person who comes to the love feast is offered the gift of family, and because of that warmth and inclusion, the love feast continues to grow. It has brought revitalization to this little congregation, and they are now seeking to grow in their discipleship and connect in mission in even more new ways.
Significant here is that this revitalization would never have happened without the laity because it was the laity who sent out the distress call and it was the laity who stepped up. They cared enough to get out of their comfort zone and live out their discipleship in tangible ways. As a result, the community is being transformed. The people of the De Smet United Methodist Church have become world-changing disciples!
One interesting note: The De Smet UMC is yoked with the First Congregational Church of De Smet. The First Congregational Church was organized on June 20, 1880, at a meeting held in the depot, with eight charter members. The charter members included Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ingalls and Mary Ingalls. Although the Ingalls family was originally rooted in the Congregational Church, Almanzo and Laura (Ingalls) Wilder were quite active in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Certainly, the Ingalls family would be proud of the efforts of this small church in De Smet, SD
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- What is your church's story?
- What is your church's passion?
- What are the needs in your community/world that you can connect with your church’s story and passion? How can you best develop leaders to move forward to help accomplish a new vision from both your clergy and your laity?
Produced by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:
- Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation.
- Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually.
- Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability.
- Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
- Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ.
- Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation.
- Shared clergy and lay leadership.
© 2016 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this newsletter for use in United Methodist congregations. This newsletter is provided as a service of Discipleship Ministries and is funded through World Services apportionment giving by local United Methodist congregations.