David Graves and Rethink Church Team members say they feel good about progress made so far, including a January “day of discipleship” that went out of its way to demonstrate hospitality and worship tactics.
But the strategic plan is chock-full of creative ideas and hard work to come, including
- purchasing an abandoned cassette tape factory in the West Carter’s Valley area to store mission supplies, offer after-school tutoring, establish a health clinic, or create a new worship service;
- expanding the “Terrific Tuesday” inner-city ministry at Community UMC into a daily outreach (modeled after the Emerald Youth Foundation) by purchasing property and enlisting district-wide participation;
- launching a new worship service and reaching the Hispanic community near Meadowview UMC with major facility updates and improvements; and
- developing a pastor’s academy and lay academy.
Some of the Rethink Church Team’s ambitions are already on the calendar. Ten four-person teams will soon be trained to fan out into the district and help each of the 57 churches answer the question, “What is God’s vision for your congregation?”
Instead of the traditional charge conferences in the fall, the churches will meet on Nov. 13 for a district-wide celebration and conferencing of their visions.
“Churches are tired of being threatened,” says Graves. “They’re tired of being ramrodded. I would rather say to them, ‘Here are your options. Now what do you want to do?’ I really want people to re-think how they do church.”
At the March 13 district prayer service, Graves announced another initiative: In August, he will start a new church at John Adams Elementary School. Worship will be held on Saturdays so that it won’t compete with the district’s own churches, but will enable clergy families and other church leaders to worship with their superintendent.
Graves and his team will also use the Saturday service to model excellence in modern worship, children’s ministry, and hospitality, using the district’s own talent and resources.
“I’ve been told I’m too old to start a church,” Graves said at the district prayer service. “I don't have the time and I don’t have the energy. But we need a place where we can all come out and do a new thing. God says we should step out in faith … ”
So that’s what Kingsport is doing.
- Return to page 1 -- "Rethinking church in Kingsport: How a district superintendent is teaching small churches to share"
- Return to page 2 -- "Rethinking church in Kingsport: 'We reached the point where we had to do something different'"
- "Power of the parish: Nine churches in Cleveland District demonstrate how working together helps them accomplish greater things" (The Call, 5/10/10)