A Moment for Mission
“I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ.” — Philemon 6, NRSV
While some congregations struggled with sustaining ministry during COVID-19, the 220 members of Hope United Methodist Church in Billings, Montana, accepted the challenges and ran with them.
“Over the last three years,” said the Rev. Angie Dornisch, “we’ve begun new ministries and strengthened existing ones. We’ve resurrected our youth group and children’s Sunday school.”
Finding new ways to support the surrounding community, Hope UMC offers autumn festivals, trunk-or-treats, pictures with Santa, community movie nights, food bank drives and vacation Bible schools. “All of these,” Dornisch said, “have been well attended by families outside of our church.”
The congregation presents a full menu of opportunities for all ages. Children’s church school meets Sunday afternoon. Discipleship breakfasts for men and women provide food for the body and the soul. A weekly Bible study for adults happens every Wednesday morning. During Lent, Advent and the summer, Hope UMC provides an evening Bible study.
The youth group is blossoming, too.
“Youth group, in collaboration with other Billings United Methodist churches, is every Wednesday night,” Dornisch said. “We took nine high school students to Denver on a weeklong mission trip in July 2021, and that was a wonderful experience.
“The revival of the children and youth programs,” she added, “has brought joy and excitement.”
For many United Methodist congregations, Christian Education Sunday is an annual observance. At Hope UMC, it happens every day.
“We are so excited to see what comes next!” Dornisch said.
Prop: Children’s Bible
The other day, I read a story about a woman who is a missionary. She said that when she was a little girl, she went to Sunday school every week. She loved hearing about people who help others, sometimes in faraway places. Some were pastors who told people about Jesus. Some were doctors who helped people stay healthy. Some were experts in growing crops so people would have enough to eat.
Do you go to Sunday school? What is your favorite thing about it? What do you learn?
You might hear about people who lead exciting lives teaching and helping others. You might make crafts or solve puzzles.
Next week, invite a friend to join you at Sunday school. I think they will like it!
Loving God, as we share our faith, may we grow in discipleship and become more effective as we perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. We love you. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Counting the Cost — Holy and righteous God, through your Son, you have called us to follow. The gifts we offer this day are only a small token of affirmation that we accept that call. If we embraced the full meaning of that call, we would give our whole being to the offering. In many cases, we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that a few dollars and an hour on Sunday is the cost of discipleship, Help us to stop fooling ourselves, and consider the full cost of a discipleship that means something, that is capable of transforming the world. By your grace and with the help of Jesus, we pray. Amen. (Luke 14:25-33)
What is Christian education? Sunday school? Confirmation and new-member classes? Bible studies? Vacation Bible school? Church camp? Age-level ministries?
Yes, yes and yes! Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, started class meetings for adults. He encouraged people of all ages to grow in their faith by participating in the sacraments, joining in community life, reading Scripture and singing hymns. Through these means of grace, Wesley urged believers to engage with God and with one another.
Annually, across The United Methodist Church, congregations observe Christian Education Sunday. With the date determined by each annual conference, this Sunday calls the church as God’s people to be open to growth and learning as disciples of Jesus Christ. If the conference so directs, an offering may be received to enrich Christian education.
In 2 Timothy 2:15, NRSV, the apostle Paul advised Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.”