Fruit sometimes slow in coming…

Posted: November 12, 2010 by efenster in Stories

  When  a church launches a new worship service, there’s a lot of excitement in anticipation of the new people it hopes to reach.  Once its launched, however, that excitement can wane when the reality sets in that reaching the community’s unreached is not an easy task, and sometimes the fruit takes time in coming.  Sometimes mistakes are made, mistakes that can teach us important lessons.  In the following article, Rev. Bob Coleman shares his church’s experience… 

So – you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, and things don’t happen the way you prayed they would.  What’s next?  In the fall of 2009, Tracy UMC south of La Porte initiated a new “alternative” worship service.  After laying the groundwork for nearly two years, we secured a New Worship Service Grant from the conference, remodeled our Fellowship Hall to create a cozy, intimate atmosphere, installed a new sound and projection system, developed a remarkably talented praise team for a little country church – and even the pastor, ancient as he is, learned to preach in a completely different way (sitting on a stool, engaging with and interacting with those who attend – even inviting questions and challenges).

We’ve had good support from the existing congregation (we average around 65-70 now in our “traditional” service – although it has become something of a “blended” service.)  There’s even a few who show up to attend worship a second time.  And so far, we haven’t had the “you’re trying to split the church” push-back.    

Fifteen months later, it would be fair to say that we don’t have this thing figured out yet.  The neighborhood isn’t beating down our doors in order to be a part of what has become, for those that attend, a powerful worship experience.  Our kids love it – getting to sit in “mushroom” chairs, eat snacks even as you sing, and actually be a part of worship – means that it’s become their preferred worship time.  So, sometimes we have 15 folks, and once in a while we have 30 – but we’re still trying to figure this thing out. 

Maybe that’s a good thing.  In my secular life (I’m a builder/developer), I’ve generally learned more from my “failures” than I have from my “successes. “  I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t “failed” in what we’re trying to do, but we are having a pretty significant “learning opportunity.”  Years ago, when I was in the Navy, we had a saying that “you just keep throwing stuff on the wall until something sticks” (we used a different S-word back then).  So that’s where we find ourselves. 

One thing I know we’ve learned – we haven’t done enough to “earn” the right to share the gospel with those we seek to reach.  Finding ways to be in “face-to-face” ministries is essential.  If you want to touch lives, then you have to touch people (duh).  It’s the old “you can’t just talk the talk – you’ve got to walk the walk” thing.

  1. efenster says:

    Go to our conference website ( to get a Church Development worship matching grant application.

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