Have you ever had the satisfaction or perhaps even the joy of being a part of something before it ever got really organized? I am excited to report that I had these very feelings during our time at the North Texas Annual Conference in June. As our Conference leadership rolled out a new emphasis for the United Methodists of North Texas for the coming year, my heart swelled with pride as I thought about our own church leadership and the people of Decatur FUMC. The conference-wide emphasis, “New Faces, New Spaces” may be new to most of the churches of our Conference, but Decatur has already been living the idea for several years!
In reality, the new initiative is not so new. For quite a while, Christians have called the idea the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28: 16-20). Almost 2,000 years ago, Matthew recounts how Jesus ordered his followers to go out and transform the world by making more disciples. It was the historic start of new faces and new spaces. Over time, we have reminded ourselves of this plan by retelling, recounting, refocusing, representing, and even rebranding Jesus’ expectation of the church.
Several years ago (before I was appointed your pastor), our church leaders caught Christ’s vision of reaching new faces. The idea, which ultimately became the plan, was to create an additional worship experience where new people, whom we have not yet met, might experience the power and joy of our Wesleyan, grace-centered theology, as a part of an alternative worship experience. We continue to feel God’s blessing and power as we seek those new faces and invite them to our new spaces!
We have been committed to the plan and are now beginning to hear and see some of what God is doing in and through our efforts. The MAC has been completed and we are seeing new youth and fresh faces coming into various areas and ministries of the church. Ricky Harrison has helped a founding group of people (we often call them the “Launch Team” for they are working to “launch” the third worship experience for the community later this year) discern a new name for the worshiping group (3rd Service just doesn’t sound exciting or rise up to the experience they are planning for the new faces). They focused on an identity that recalls the former plans, commitment, and hard work of our faithful church ancestors of preceding generations who made disciples in the midst of the Pecan trees in downtown Decatur, TX (they too were engaged in “new faces, new spaces”).
So now, we are being watched and perhaps admired by some, but beyond that, we are trying to live into that Great Commission for this generation and those who will follow. We don’t have all the answers of course, but we do have a heart for God and for our neighbors. And I think it’s okay (as long as we don’t get too complacent) every once in a while, to feel like we knew the plan before it ever got organized. There will certainly be some opportunities for all of us to support the efforts of Pecan Street Mission to reach new faces, but that is true for all our ministries and opportunities. It’s a part of Jesus telling us to “go.” Pray for our work and our next steps, but also pray for the new faces we will meet!
See you in worship!