First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill
Sunday, April 30, 2017

Welcoming Church Initiative


 Ways We're Becoming a More Welcoming Church



You have probably read the email from Liturgical Publications/Messner Publications inviting your participation in the new bulletins.  The decision to move forward with new bulletins has been discussed with the Worship Team, Ministry Team, staff meetings and at our last Church Chat, and unanimously approved by the Administrative Board.  These teams are charged with prayerfully considering fiscal responsibility and seeking new ways to grow the church. Churches that thrive, excel in welcoming new people (Radical Hospitality) and we are well on our way to being a more welcoming church.  We have the love of Jesus present here but we need to stretch outside of our comfort zones and to invite people to join us in worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


So how do you we do that?  How do we make the church more welcoming?  How do we make our congregation more inviting?  How can we show the Love of Jesus to strangers just walking in through the doors of our church?


These are some of the key questions the Ministry and Administrative Teams are charged with asking each meeting.  Over the last several months, three changes were discussed and voted on and approved:

 1)  Provide Coffee - In an effort to provide a more welcoming atmosphere and one that promotes communication and bonding, the addition of coffee was approved.   Coffee is here and it is a success.  Thanks to all who are setting it up and greeting people each week with a smile and a cup of coffee.  People are partaking, enjoying and using this vehicle for fellowship and bonding.   It was designed for the lobby area, but we’re encouraging any who’d like to bring it into the sanctuary to put a lid on it.  We are aware of all the concerns but have chosen to care more about people than spills on carpet.

 2) Screens:   When the Sanctuary was designed we asked the architects to provide for the ability to have screens.  They did.  If you look at the front of the church you see two large white areas. They are there for screens.   Just like the balcony we could not afford the screens at time of construction.  We have since been able to replenish funds that have already been designated to be used for the screens but have not had enough until our sister church, Van Dyke UMC, volunteered to design, set up and install the equipment we need at a huge savings.  Suddenly we could afford it. Timing is everything and they will be installed in the next few weeks.  We also have been blessed with Mike Conway.  Not only does he know sound, he is also a great musician.  In addition to seeing to our sound needs he plays drums for the 8:00 am band and leads the band on guitar at the 9 am contemporary service. So we have the means, we have the man who can run it and train volunteers to handle the cameras.   The church was dedicated in 2002—we have taken fourteen years to make this happen.  Churches that are thriving today have all of these elements.


So what does this mean?  It means that you will be able to see the baby’s face for baptism. You will be able to see the parent’s emotions as it happens.  You will see Pastor Greg’s sermon outlines projected and he won’t have to spell out the big words!  And, the hymns will be easier to see. We will still have the hymnals in the pews.  We will also be able to share the New Announcements in digital format and can be shown before services.


Finally, this technology allows for our service to be "streamed", "podcasted", or broadcasted on the Internet.  Did you like a sermon?  Did you wish someone in your family who lives out of state could see it or if you are ill and can’t get to church, or you are on vacation or a snowbird?   Well, you will be able to view and stay in touch with our church anytime you want.  Also it will allow a conduit for people, who are potential members, to view our church from their homes—they can check us out before they even walk in the doors.  Gone are the days of checking out new churches by visiting a new one each week---now you check them out online from the comfort of your own home. Having our services online will enable people to “see into the church” before stepping foot inside.  They feel more connected to the church and visiting will become less intimidating.  Pastor Greg shared at his last church someone who’d never come to church would watch at home.  After a few weeks of watching at home he came to visit.  He just had to be in worship with the people.  In addition to these, Van Dyke has over 20,000 followers all over the country.  Imagine with us how we can expand the Word of God.


 3)  Color Bulletins:  the new bulletins will be larger, more content, and easier to read and did I mention full color?  We are charged with being good stewards of the Church’s resources. We will save money on time, copier costs, toner and paper. The bulletins will be coming from a publisher that will deliver them to our door.  And it will be at no charge to us.  Yes, I know there is no such thing as a free lunch. So it has to be paid for somehow and that somehow is advertising on the back page. 


The idea came from several of our larger, sister United Methodist Churches who’ve been using this method for years.  The publisher, Liturgical Publications/Messner Publications, will be arranging for advertisers.  The email you received earlier was to give the opportunity for Church leaders and business owners the opportunity to secure space in the new bulletin.  Many of us have been members of First UMC for a long time, but have no idea what most of the membership does for a living.  It may be interesting to find out what the person sitting next to you does and wouldn’t you like to support a fellow Christian when you need items or services?  Messner says some churches see this a replacement for the old Shepherd’s Guide.  In addition to providing a service for our church it builds community and outreach.


The publisher has been doing this for a long time, with churches of all denominations, including several of our sister United Methodist churches.  Messner will do all the leg work.  In addition to many of our members who’ve already indicated interest in advertising, they will help contact other restaurants, medical offices and businesses in our community.  We do have final say over advertisers, giving preferential treatment to members, and the ability to turn down advertising for any business we feel would not uphold our values as a church.  Messner is a religious organization and carries our same values.


So that is what is new and planned for our church.  All of these things have been discussed in Leadership and presented at the most recent Church Chat. The Administrative Board, Ministry Teams, Worship and staff have all been hard at work to try to expand the presence of First United Methodist Church in the Spring Hill area.  All of this is an effort to win more souls for the Lord.


None of us takes this lightly.  We are a team, we are a family, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and we have a mandate to “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  Well, first we must “love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and secondly love your neighbor as yourself”.


Share the love, embrace the changes, have patience with us as we implement each of these, share in the excitement about what God is doing to invite more people to join our membership.  We’re doing our best to serve God, this church, and community.


In Christ’s love,

Your Administrative, Ministry, Worship Teams and Staff


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