Starting in March, the Mid-America region has found a new way to help their more than 200 congregations connect with each other and their communities.
Regional Minister Rev. Ron Routledge has hosted six “Cane Ridge Re-Vital” events for congregations – spread out across Missouri, so no one drives more than 90 minutes to participate.
At each event, congregation leaders worship together and share how they serve their communities. “Our congregations are already doing great ministry; we just need the opportunity to highlight and celebrate those successes with others,” Routledge suggests.
Every participant is told to bring a “ministry item” to the event, and in an afternoon session, everyone shares the successful program that item represents. This idea-sharing helps neighboring leaders connect and brainstorm together.
From the first event, the region has created a worshipful setting for these congregations. The theme Scripture for the day is 2 Corinthians 3:18, and speakers reflect on the 1801 Cane Ridge Revival, at which, Routledge says, “Barton Stone said at the end of the experience, ‘For a moment in time, we saw the face of God.’”
The story of Cane Ridge is a powerful one for congregations who want to revitalize their ministry, Routledge explains, because “It was an awakening of a level playing field for a communion open to everyone…It’s a reminder to drop the creeds and get back to the simplicity of following Christ.”
While the program is open to all congregations in the region, it has been particularly popular for congregations in rural areas, who, in many ways, might feel left out from the wider Church. At these events, participants meet directly with a regional minister and learn more about opportunities in the wider Church. At the same time, several participants requested more interaction with the region – beyond times of crisis or transition.
Participants leave the Cane Ridge Re-Vital with tangible, practical ideas to provide new opportunities for aging populations, ways to rethink their work, and the suggestion to, as Routledge says, “Change the question from ‘What can we do to attract people to our church?’ to ‘What is God’s spirit already doing in our neighborhood, and how can we join God there?’”
Mid-America’s Cane Ridge Re-Vital effort is a powerful example of the work regions do to strengthen congregational life across the U.S. and Canada. As Routledge celebrates, “Participants leave [this event] saying things like, ‘I always thought a church our size couldn’t do this kind of mission, but now I see we can!’…If people go away encouraged and equipped, that’s a success in my book.”
To support the work of your regional ministry, you’re invited to give to the 2019 Christmas Special Day Offering, received in many congregations on Dec. 15 and 22.