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First United Methodist Church rattling traditions
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At one of Great Bend’s historic churches, the congregation is focusing on “church outside the walls.”
First United Methodist Church still has services on Sunday mornings at 2123 Forest Ave., but on other days its members are in the community, helping people.
“We as a church feel the church should not be (only) in a building,” Associate Pastor Matt Aycock said Thursday, when First UMC hosted the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce coffee.
Jesus went to the synagog on the Sabbath, but the rest of His time was spent going to people who needed Him, Aycock said. This year First has attempted to have more of a dialogue with the community, with service projects at the Kansas Dream Center and elsewhere. This weekend, members will help students moving into the dorms at Barton Community College.
First UMC has entered into the era of the emerging or postmodern church, according to its minister, the Rev. Lennie Maxwell. In a recent interview with the Great Bend Tribune, the Rev. Maxwell talked about First UMC’s new Revive worship services, which exemplifies a shift in world views.
“Our church saw the importance of speaking out to this generation — speaking the good news in a different language,” Maxwell said. “Holding on to old ways, we thought the world would come to us. The world said, ‘You’re not relevant.’”
Church members at First UMC began examining possible changes two years ago. A leadership team was formed, with members traveling to other churches as part of their research. They were faithful in maintaining basic foundations to Christian tradition while eschewing traditional style, order and ritual, Maxwell said.
Each Revive service will be different, engaging participants as the ancient Christian churches once did, by incorporating as many of the senses as possible, Maxwell said. That will include modern music, sharing communion, videos and significantly shorter sermons — about 8 minutes in length.
The new Sunday schedule at First UMC beginning on Aug. 17 will be:
- 8:45 a.m. Traditional worship
- 9:45 a.m. Discover Hour (Sunday School)
- 10:30 a.m. Fellowship (North Entrance)
- 11 a.m. Revive worship
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