Publicly Answering Publicly Asked Questions: Part One

The church spends a lot of time and brainwork answering questions that no one (or at least not anyone outside the four walls) is asking. The only way to know what questions people are asking is to ask them, rather than wasting our time assuming we know (or worse, telling people what they should be asking).

Over the next week, I will answer some of the questions that have been asked by real people from within Matthews United Methodist Church concerning the 801South initiative. No hypotheticals here. I appreciate the vulnerability exhibited by the leadership in opening the the space for people to ask these questions publicly.

If you have further questions of clarification (or just thoughts in general) regarding my answers, I would love to hear them. Please make use of the text box under “Leave a Reply” below the post.

My answers to these questions are not particularly informed (and they will surely evolve over time as I learn and discern), but rather, these are initial responses simply from my own cognition.

Do the unchurched folks we are trying to reach consider themselves digital, or just seekers?

As I ponder this question, first of all, I’m not sure if anyone actually considers him or herself digital (or a seeker). These are terms that may or may not be useful.

More importantly, the word “we” must be dropped. If there is a “we,” then there inherently must also be a “not we.” There cannot be an “us” and a “them.” Instead, for the sake of an initiative like 801South, there is no inside, there is no outside. We must take seriously the words of Paul and it will get fuzzy where we draw the line of “in Christ.” Doesn’t that sound messy??? It is. Get comfortable with living in the mess. The black and white as we have come to understand it will soon turn varying shades of gray.

How will Sunday School classes and groups be affected when people from the 801South service start plugging into classes (or adding classes), with space already limited?

The traditional church has had a primary focus on the edifice itself. In worship, discipleship, and even mission (service), the physical building of the church has played a key role. Although time will tell, I have a feeling that this will not be the case with 801South. Those who feel called to be a part of this ministry for the long haul will develop new modes for worship, discipleship, and service and, whereas the ministries of the established church have revolved around the physical location, I can see where the home and “third places” will play a key role in the modes of discipleship and service that emerge from 801South.

The traditional/established/mainline church still typically proceeds primarily from a temple-centric mentality that we read of in the Old Testament. For 801South to flourish and reach new generations, the ministry will be best served to emulate the marketplace movement of making disciples that was the early church.

Early next week; which will be my first week on the ground in the Matthews community, I will answer the following questions:

Have we or should we reach out to other United Methodist Conferences to see how they have done with launching services of similar type?

and

Will this service be a duplicate of what we currently offer at the 9:40 contemporary worship service?

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