Feb 1, 2013

Best Practices

I read this entry on the General Board of Ministry Website of our United Methodist Church and wanted to let you know that what we do here is being discussed all around the country.—dnm

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Best Practices - Romans 12: One Mile Mission - Issue #66
By Deb Smith

First United Methodist Church in Arlington, Texas is in downtown Arlington just a few blocks from Cowboys Stadium. Many of the members drive a significant distance to participate in the life of the congregation. The church has a rich history of mission involvement including international work trips for both adults and youth.

In addition to national and global mission involvement, the church members decided to be more intentional about their engagement in the community immediately surrounding the church building. Measuring from the altar in the church sanctuary, they mapped a circle with a one mile radius. Then every group in the church from Sunday school classes, to the choir, to the Church Council was challenged to find one way to reach out and serve within that circle.

The results included things such as hosting a teacher appreciation luncheon for the teachers in the nearby elementary school, collecting coats for the homeless shelter, inviting neighborhood families as guests to the annual spaghetti supper, and providing supplies for a tutoring program.

But just as important as the service that was provided was what the congregation learned about it's neighborhood. The congregation has a clearer picture of the issues that are facing the families who live near the church. Places that were once driven by unnoticed on the way to church are now recognized as vital parts of the community and opportunities for extending God’s love.

The “One Mile Mission” was so successful that the congregation is now engaging in “Go the Second Mile.” Each month the church is focusing on a church-wide project that everyone can be involved with.

To read more about “One Mile Mission” and “Go the Second Mile” see arlingtonmethodist.org.

Some Questions for Discussion:

How do you think your congregation would respond to a challenge like “One Mile Mission”?

In what ways is your congregation currently involved in the community immediately surrounding the church building?

What do you think are the biggest issues facing families who live near your church? How might you respond in a way that makes God’s love evident?

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Deb Smith is the Director of Best Practices at the GBOD. She can be reached at dsmith@gbod.org.

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