Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”

John 4:13-15 (The Message)

This newsletter I decided to take a short break from working our way through articles based on the vowels. Instead I wanted to give you just a little more information about the new worship/study/fellowship experience we are testing this spring. It is our hope and prayer that this new experience is like drinking of the living water Jesus talks about in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well.

One of the most important features of The Well is that it is not a “traditional” worship service where there is primarily one voice speaking and many people listening. The Well is being intentionally designed to allow for many voices to participate in the discussion. It’s likely that this will be a bit “uncomfortable” for some at first. The plans are for me to serve as a facilitator for the discussion, but not as the “final voice” in the conversation. That means each person at The Well will have the opportunity to add their voice to the conversation. The goal is to promote active engagement with the topics for discussion each week.

Coming up with topics is one area where I need your help. If we are committed to having many voices involved in The Well, then we should have more than my voice involved in what topics we discuss, right? To get your help, we have placed a repurposed coffee can in the foyer at the church building for you to submit your questions and topics for discussion. Even if you are not planning on attending The Well, I encourage you to submit questions and topics as it will really be helpful for us each week.

There will also be a worship component to The Well. We will begin each week with a time of song and prayer to center our hearts and minds, and to open ourselves to God’s still, small voice. As we begin this spring we will be using recorded songs and piano to help us in our worship; however, as we begin to develop The Well, we will be looking to include guitar and other instruments.

I believe this is a unique opportunity for us to live into our mission of feeding our neighbors and ourselves through God’s word. Unlike the Bread of Life, this is not a literal meal, but an intellectual one. As Disciples of Christ, we have a unique ability to address our friends and neighbors that have questions about God and faith. As a “big tent” church, we are a home for people of all kinds of backgrounds to continue on their walk of faith.

I am excited about this ministry and what it might mean for us as a community of faith. But, the big beginning to The Well is really going to be this fall. These four weeks in the spring are a warm-up for us. We will hold The Well on April 23rd and 30th and again on May 14th and 21st. On May 7th we will join with the Marshfield High School class of 2014 for Baccalaureate. On the 30th we will be discussing Noah and the story of the flood.

I hope you will join us as we worship, study and fellowship. Come to the well, all who are thirsty!

“E” is for Easter and…

Evangelism. I know, for some of us evangelism is almost a dirty word. We may fear knocking on doors, standing on street corners holding up signs, or cornering coworkers around the water cooler with warnings about eternal punishment if they don’t repent and change their ways. I want to take a moment to assure you that it is perfectly OK to feel a good amount of fear about those types of evangelism. You are not alone.

Most people I’ve met shudder (or flee outright) from these more assertive forms of evangelism. And, while those fears are normal and understandable, they have kept many of us from sharing the Good News with others. We might worry that we don’t know the Bible well enough, or that we might not have the “right” words to say, or simply be uncomfortable sharing our personal faith with others. Whatever the reason, our “mainline” denominations have done a pitiful job of evangelism over the past few decades.

There is an outright lack of evangelistic effort in our churches. Especially as we approach Easter, that is sad. I expect that most of us can point to a time in our lives when God’s presence was almost tangible. Maybe you got through a touchy financial situation without depleting your savings; maybe you experienced a miraculous healing; or maybe you understood in a very personal way that you needed the comfort of Christ walking beside you every step of the way. Whatever your story, whatever makes God real to you, that is a powerful story.

And, that is the basis of evangelism. We are called to share our stories with others. That doesn’t have to mean that we grab the arm of a stranger in the store. Telling our story can start with our friends and our families. Telling our story can start in the safety of church.

I remember several years ago when my grandfather died. As we gathered in the church for his memorial services, my father stood up to speak. I honestly don’t remember any of the words he said that day. But, I do remember understanding for the first time how much my dad loved his father. I understood how much his life had been shaped by this man we both loved. Maybe it was because I was a new father as well, or maybe it was just my time, but I came to see my dad in a different way that day. Our relationship changed, with a few stories about his life.

That’s really all it takes to help someone change their life; few stories, a relationship, openness to sharing part of ourselves with someone else. That is the basis of evangelism. But we can’t stop there. People need a community of faith. And so, we invite people to join us in church, because it is important to us, and something we would like to share.

As you build relationships with people and want to invite them to church, you could say; “I’d love for you to come to church at MCC.”  Or, what about making a more personal invitation, like “Why don’t I pick you up for church on Sunday morning, and afterward we can have lunch together.”  Not only would they have someone to go with them, to walk them through the worship service, but they’d also be sure to have somewhere to go for lunch after service is done.

As we approach Easter this year, will you pray with me that we might all find opportunities, and have the courage to share our stories with others? As we work together in sharing our stories we’ll find that evangelism isn’t a dirty word after all.