United Methodist Church makes big changes
BY PIPPI MAYFIELD
Last year, the local United Methodist Church put a lot of work into a study, trying to determine what the community needs out of a church.
Now, they are implementing those changes and planning a few future changes as well.
For starters, the Detroit Lakes church is now hosting a Wednesday night gathering for families. There will be separate classes for children, teens and adults.
Secondly, the traditional meatball supper that has been held on a Wednesday night for over 30 years is switching to Tuesday night to avoid space conflict with the new Wednesday night programming.And lastly, the church plans to implement another worship service next fall.And they are doing all this in the name reaching more people and giving people the most convenient way to worship God.
Studying some changesUnited Methodist Church — which is pastored by Brenda North — recently adopted a new mission statement: “We are a missionary force of Christians offering the care and compassion of Christ to all, meeting you wherever you are on life’s journey.”With that mission, they went out and tried to find where the people of Detroit Lakes are and what the church can do to meet them there.“We’re taking that mission statement to heart,” church member Paul White said. “Life is going by so fast.”“How can we meet our community needs better,” church member Sherry Thompson said was the focus of the study.To find the answer to that question, she said they asked random people throughout the community. They asked community leaders, they knocked on random doors throughout town.One of the big things they found was that “young families seem to be the age bracket we’re missing in many churches,” she said.Also part of the study was mystery guest visitors. They invited random people to attend the church and rate how the church was doing in terms of everything from if they were greeted to how the music was to how the service could be improved.“We are trying to offer a place for anyone from 5-85,” White said.
‘Thank God it’sWednesday’One of the common themes the church found was that people are so busy on weekends that they don’t find the time to attend church. So they decided to move their traditional Sunday school concept to Wednesday nights.That’s how “Thank God It’s Wednesday” was born — with last week being the first time it was implemented.Families are invited to the church for a light meal at 6 p.m. It is a freewill offering event.Thompson said that they understand mom and dad are working and don’t have time to squeeze a meal in before church Wednesdays, so it seemed easier to offer the meal at the church.Then at 6:45, Christian education will begin, with classes for all ages of kids, young adults and the adults. There is also nursery available for babies.Young kids are invited to “Explore” and “Discover,” while kids grades 6-8 have “Accepted, Loved, Forgiven,” and kids grades 9-12 are up for “Live & Love the Lord.”Small groups for the adults will work through several popular books. They include “Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy for the men, “Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We can Learn from Them” by Liz Curtis Higgs for the women, and “The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem” by Adam Hamilton for young adults.There will be more classes in the future on topics such as parenting, marriage, Financial Peace University and more.
Meatball supperLast year the church served more than 600 people at its annual meatball supper.“It’s been a real tradition. It’s important to our church,” Paul White said.Since they didn’t want to disrupt the new Wednesday night programming, the church switched the meatball supper one night earlier.It is this Tuesday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The menu includes meatballs, mashed potatoes, veggies, pie and a beverage. The cost is $10 for adults, $3 for ages 6-10 and under 6 are free.Everyone is welcome.
Other Sunday changesDuring the two Sunday morning services — 8:15 and 10:30 — children are welcome to sit with their parents for the start of church. Then Adventure Kids starts for ages 4 through fourth grade, where they will be excused to have crafts, lessons and other child-related activities.“It’s their own worship service,” Thompson said. “It’s gearing the message to their level.”Then, between the two services, there will be Koinonia or “fellowship.” Slated to start at 9:15 a.m., it is an intergenerational time for the young, the old and everyone in between to come together for fellowship.There will be activities geared toward creating relationships between the ages. This will take the place of Sunday school.“We’re still going to have a growing time for all ages,” Thompson said.
Future plansThe Methodist church already hosts an 8:15 a.m. casual service on Sundays and a 10:30 traditional service. Next fall, they plan to add a service on Wednesday nights as well. It will be a contemporary service.“That’s the next step,” Thompson said.White said that the church discussed making all these changes at once, but he’s glad they didn’t.The 8:15 service is a coffeehouse style, where it takes place over coffee in the fellowship hall versus the sanctuary. The 10:30 service is more traditional.Since the changes made within the church are to better serve the community, everyone is invited to come check out any of the new programs being offered at United Methodist Church, which is located at the corner of Pembina Trail and Corbett Road.“We want to go outside these four walls and be more visible to people of the community,” Thompson said.Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.