Wow! That actually was much easier than expected! Before I post the video, I'd like to share some things about the ministry context and the nature of this sermon.
As has been well established, Grace United Methodist is located in a decaying urban setting, two blocks from Churchill Downs. To drive around the neighborhoods and with a small dose of imagination, you can clearly see where back in the 50's this was probably a pretty idyllic, "Leave It To Beaver" type of neighborhood. I don't know the exact history, which at this point really isn't a huge issue. However, suffice it to say, it has been going downhill for an extended period of time. The same goes for Grace UMC. At one time it was a thriving church and mirroring the neighborhood, it has suffered from steady decline.
The facilities themselves offer a load of potential and possibilities. The building features two stories of very large, school-like classrooms, a massive basement with two worship areas, and a sizable sanctuary on the main level. There is tons of room! Unfortunately, from what I've been told the church usually has between 8 and 15 in attendance. My experience? We've had over 20 on the first two Sundays! Progress!
The congregation skews older and most of them were born and raised in this church, which is a really awesome thing to me. From my perspective, they have weathered the storms and the changing climes, but they've remained faithful and I love them for it. They may not know what to think of this new gigantic, high energy pastor yet, but I am rather fond of them. The transition from the previous pastor to myself is ongoing, but in all honesty, it has been far smoother than I could've hoped for. They are a rare UMC congregation in that prior to me, they have enjoyed the same pastor for the past 22 years, who remains a part of the congregation. Part of the challenge from my perspective as a pastor is that my time with the congregation is somewhat limited. Given their ages and the challenges of travel, we cannot meet in the evenings, and getting them together during the week in daylight hours also presents a world of difficulties.
To overcome these challenges, or at least to chip away at them, I'm using these early sermons to allow them to get to know me, while also laying the groundwork for what we are attempting to do in South Louisville. Today's sermon was all about laying that groundwork, while also challenging them. My goal for them is to refresh and reinvigorate them; hopefully in that process I can share some of my energy with them. However, my primary goal at present as it concerns the congregation is to 1) Love them 2) Nurture them 3) Unite them 4) Offer them opportunities to join this ministry at their pace. If I can help lead them to a place where they are united in prayer for this ministry, then I will consider this early part to have been wildly successful. That's what today was about...
Here is the sermon :)
Sermon July 7, 2013-Grace United Methodist
More to follow!!!