A Word from Our Pastor 2017 August

Why “Wacky” August?

For a number of years now, we have celebrated August at BMU with some “wacky” activities. We move the worship service into the social hall, and experiment with different kinds of ways to experience God and community together. Some of the things we do are a lot like the kinds of things you would do at a summer camp or retreat. We sit in groups around a table and talk about Scripture, social issues, our lives, we play charades or other team games, we have a talent show.

Wacky August is not popular with everyone. There were times when several people either don’t attend church in August (not so much now), or run into the kitchen when the fun begins (this still happens). I think most of the non-participants are uncomfortable because the activities involved interacting with each other. These folks are more comfortable with traditional worship in which the congregants are not required to do anything but listen, or perhaps sing or pray along with others. Traditional worship rarely requires people to move out of their “shell.” During Wacky August, we try to find things to do that will help our community grow closer together by talking about things that we don’t normally talk about, to share our faith stories, and to play games or do group art projects (this brings people closer together in non-verbal ways).

Wacky August is also part of the struggle that the world-wide church is in: to find new ways to be “church;” to do things that will encourage people who have never been to church to be curious. It is clear that the traditional church in most places, whatever denomination (or none), whether conservative or liberal, whether “political” or pietistic, is in decline. We don’t know what will make our message of love, forgiveness, peace, justice and reconciliation more meaningful to all of the people “out there.” We know the world needs our message, needs a teacher and healer and leader like Jesus, but we haven’t yet found many ways to reach out to people who aren’t already in our “circle” – i.e., people who went to church as children, or who have had other positive experiences of church. So Wacky August is a way for our little church to “practice” at being different. . . to find new ways to express and experience the joy of our faith – because the old ways work for a smaller and smaller group of people.

Trying something new isn’t always comfortable. Actually, for most of us, it is always uncomfortable. But what is our alternative? We have been given the precious gift of faith, and know that it is our calling to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” So, in addition, we are being called to create a new “tradition” – because our old ways of doing things are not bringing people to our message. Our goal is not “survival” or keeping ourselves comfortable: it is sharing the love of God and Jesus in a way that brings life, renewal, hope and joy to everyone. Let’s continue to explore together how we may become “church” in a new way. . .
–Rev. Naomi