Ministry on the Margins at Vera COG

The foundation was laid and we had a great core group. We were set.

When we began our ministry at Vera Church of God, we came in ready to change the world. Everyone said they were ready to get to work building the kingdom. The only thing we were missing was a vision. Being the outsider, I would ask the congregation where their heart was to see what they wanted to focus on and also to edify their faith as they dreamed about what is possible in God’s kingdom. The response often received was based in “blind faith.” They would say “We’ll do whatever you want.”

While spending several months building relationships, we began to observe the relationship that we built with each individual was growing stronger whereas the fellowship amongst members in the church remained the same. Have you ever been in a room of pretense, where everyone was polite, but not substantive?

Our corporate worship was an alternating experience of refreshing and frustrating. Like the woman asking Christ for the crumbs from the table (Matt 15:27), we were being fed, but we knew there was more, and like Ruth 2:14, we would eat enough to suffice ourselves, and dismiss.

Vision, Worship, Fellowship: These three elements, despite our resources, were lukewarm. We missed the burden that would birth a new vision, I believe because of the leanness of our worship, rather living on the fatness of Christ’s abundant love. Our worship could be described this way because, I believe, our fellowship with each other lacked continuity. Faith was great, but what I called “blind faith” now seemed less like faith, more like compliance.

We placed a new emphasis on fellowship. We removed empty tables and chairs from our fellowship hall to reduce people’s tendency to segregate. Have you ever hosted a meal and watched people leave an empty chair’s space between themselves and the next person? Why don’t they feel comfortable sitting together? Now we share a meal after church almost weekly. We then added 30 minutes between Sunday School and our Morning Worship Service and noticed that the ones that participated in those 30 minutes of coffee were the ones that started attending our FTH. Our Sunday School attendance started to increase. Our prayer meetings started to increase. Our altar response started to increase. People inviting their friends to church started to increase.

There is a relationship between people’s willingness to engage in deeper worship, dealing with authentic problems in life, growing in discipleship, raising laity in the church, and cultivating a mission mindset for outreach. The spiritual growth that we’ve witnessed in the last year started with restoring, and re-emphasizing genuine spirit-filled and prayerful fellowship. Now our vision is to be a place where our community can experience Christ through study, song, and service. We’re still riding a wave of new interest in outreach, and local missions as people draw closer to Christ. Let’s keep connecting. Together, we are the Church of God.

Timothy McBride, Senior Pastor