slippin into the future

“slippin’ into the future”

So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. Psalms 90:12 (NRSV

To the Pastor and Congregation of 2027 Perry Memorial UMC:

I am excited to write to the Perry of 2027! The simple small verse from Psalm 90 suffices nicely: “teach us to count our days”. In 2017, we are mindful of “our days” because we are challenged. I’m reminded of the Steve Miller Band’s classic: Fly Like An Eagle. The song begins: Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future. In this day, people are hurting from unemployment, underemployment, lack of education, chronic poverty, and substance use disorder. Children are hungry and miss school because of constant chaotic households. For our community, time is not only “slippin’ into the future” but people’s well-being as well. We hope these conditions for people are much improved in 2027 and 2017 Perry is hard at work to be part of a solution. We believe in our mission of Serving Community in Christ’s Love.

So, this is what is happening at Perry in 2017:

We have spent the last five years developing “a wise heart” for God’s mission of piecing back together a broken world. We work on reaching out into the community with missions and witness. We were shocked to find so many people in need for just a simple plate of food. In response, we started a monthly community meal, The Shepherd’s Table. At this writing, we are serving over 700 meals per month. We hope by 2027, the community will have turned around and hungry people are a rarity. The 2017 people of Perry yearn for a future when The Shepherd’s Table will go the way of the iPod (that was a popular but discontinued “mp3” music player). We also dreamed that we would one day build a multipurpose building to not only house Shepherd’s Table but as a community center as well. We are counting the days when ministries like Shepherd’s Table are no longer needed. I would be thrilled to learn of the ministries of 2027 at Perry.

A remarkable lady named Amy, discovered that all too many children belong to households offering little to eat on weekends. So, with the support of the congregation, Amy began a “backpack feeding ministry” to supply hungry kids with weekend food during the school year. The “backpacks” not only meet a real need in this community but provide a portal for new folks at Perry to immediately be involved in weekly ministry. I am hoping that in 2027 that kids don’t go hungry but if so, may Perry continue to provide for this need. I also wonder how people of 2027 are “plugging” in to Perry ministry portals?

In 2017, we understand that a plate of food isn’t enough, people need to be able to feed themselves spiritually as well. In 2014, I asked the Administrative Council this question: “How do we make disciples around here?” Total silence settled heavily on the room. We were “doing church”, we were not intentionally shaping and forming disciples. Perry continues to work on shaping disciples for Jesus Christ by developing spiritual leaders through a covenant accountability group that developed a disciple-making process named: C.I.T.Y. When C.I.T.Y. works well, we Connect Perry and community, Involve Perry with community, Teach disciples, and Yield spiritual fruit. We are experimenting with our disciple-making process by expanding C.I.T.Y. into existing and new ministries. For example, we are starting a Wellness Ministry which emphasizes “wholeness in body, mind, and spirit” as well as

Menistry—a men’s discipling group. I surely hope by 2027, that covenant accountability small groups are the norm at Perry.

That’s our 2017 plan: ministering to the community in ever loving ways and making disciples that Jesus finds to be faithful in small and large “things”. Our goal is to build ever deeper community so that nothing is lost and no one is broken. We further dream that these disciples have drawn into the congregation all manner of folks from the community into a joyous worship experience on whatever day of the week and in whatever way that people of 2027 choose to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. I hope that 2027 disciples are adapting to the changing culture and finding new ways of offering the gospel in Jesus Christ. I am concerned about the future on this point, as we are a rather timid folk about sharing our faith with others. I hope the pastor in 2027 is reaping the harvest from seeds we planted in 2015 to make spiritual leaders who will lead the people called Perry into radical discipleship and hospitality. I would love to discover that Perry’s 2017 spiritual leaders have spawned a new spiritual “DNA” at Perry which embraces the future while transforming the community in Christ’s love. We live to see God’s kingdom come to fruition here in Shady Spring and around the world.

We are slippin’ into the future rapidly. The times are challenging but Christ’s love remains. I trust that Perry folks of 2027 will judge our work in 2017 as folks who were gentle, loving, and those who gained “a wise heart”.

Blessings,

Pastor Scott