One of the priorities over the last few years in the Presbyterian Church, especially since 2010, has been an evangelical push to establish 1001 New Worshipping Communities. With the reality of “change” in almost every aspect of our national and cultural life, “change” has also become a characteristic of our religious and spiritual life as well. A decade or so ago, seminaries and church leaders began to observe a new, more loosely connected church movement under the name of “The Emerging Church” where traditional church structures such as “membership” and “denominational affiliation” were minimized and, at times, ignored. More recently, a second phenomenon has become popular known as “NEXT Church,” and, to be honest, I have no idea as to the focus of this movement other than the fact several prominent leaders in our denomination (such as the new Pastor of Charlotte’s First Presbyterian Church and the former Pastor of Black Mountain Presbyterian Church) are associated with it.
Last month in Detroit while attending our denomination’s General Assembly, I witnessed first-hand the emphasis of the Presbyterian Church on establishing 1001 New Worshipping Communities. The emphasis seeks to establish groups “outside” church buildings in places such as local coffee shops or other similar venues where people gather to socialize and engage the wider community in which they live.
As one who is “new” and “still learning” about these monumental changes going on in our culture and world, and especially with respect to Faith, I find these movements intriguing and provocative. For that reason, I am seriously considering once again trying to lead a weekday Morning Men’s Bible Study from 7 to 7:30 in our community (meeting perhaps on a Wednesday) for those who desire such fellowship since the time of our Saturday Men’s Breakfast doesn’t seem to work for them.
Strangely enough, I continue to hear from my former church in Lumberton that a similar group I started there (20 years ago!) continues to thrive (as does Belmont’s Men’s Breakfast started here on Saturday morning by our former Pastor Richard Boyce). No bias against women is intended since we currently have so much energy and effort focused already on our Women’s Fellowship and Daria will be offering once again this fall a Women’s Bible Study on Wednesday mornings.
Let me know your thoughts, preferably in person or by phone (I’m a notoriously unreliable e-mailer!), and I look forward to seeing what the future holds as we prepare to “kick-off” our 2014-2015 ministry year in mid-August.
God's grace and peace to you!