It’s always gratifying to hear (as I did twice this week) that visitors to St. Timothy’s are welcomed so warmly. Important as that first step is, however, it’s just a beginning. Before people commit themselves to a congregation they need to form deeper connections.
Especially at the 10:00 service, it’s hard for a newcomer to get to know people before and after the service. It’s only when they get involved with one of our smaller groups that friendships can be made.
Ministry groups all have some sort of work they do together, from preparing the altar for worship to taking care of our finances to reaching out to new mothers struggling to get by. Being part of one of those teams not only gets people connected, but it gives them a chance to make a visible impact in the church or the wider community. That’s a refreshing contrast to the widespread pessimism in today’s world.
There’s much more to participating in ministry, however. Serving together not only promotes relationships and helps us make a difference—it can bring us closer to God. When we live out the faith we celebrate on Sunday mornings, the Spirit works through us even more powerfully.
Some of our lay leaders have shared stories of the personal meaning of their ministries. Margaret Utter has worked with children for decades, but becoming a Godly Play storyteller a few years ago had a big impact on her faith. Patt Clark was thrilled when someone worshiping on Christmas Eve was so inspired that they want to assist with decorations in the future. Debbie Freeman yearned for a church home when her family moved here, and helping in the Sunday School provided an entry point into the congregation.
Pat Jackson told me how much it means to her to reach out to new mothers (through Dorcas) and people in need of a hug (Prayer Shawl). Her husband Mickey is committed to studying God’s word and sees a growing willingness in the men of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew to listen to differing opinions and offer prayer concerns. Lyn Zolman is helping the Transmitters prayer group take creative steps to involve people devoted to praying who have a hard time getting to a meeting. All three see their group members growing closer to God in the process.
I know there are many more examples among us, which I’d be glad to hear about. Most of all, I’d love to see new stories being created as you explore opportunities for ministry. Using our gifts to make a difference not brings us closer to each other, but to the One who created us in love. Thanks be to God!