From Bill Maudlin, First UMC, Gainsville, TX
The concept of Christian Nurture found in the book Beyond Christian Education, will be an asset to any who are interested in seeing the church not only reach more people but also reach them in a more profound way. This is not “another program” that claims to fix all the problems the church faces; this is a way of seeing and understanding the concept of Christian nurture in a way that you can incorporate it into many of your current programs and ministries. This work not only deals with the necessary structure to increase Christian nurture but also a theology that will encourage and empower it.
As I became introduced to these concepts I immediately saw its potential to help me provide a better witness to that message of grace that is the Gospel of Christ. As I began to introduce this into my work with students and families, we also began to integrate these principals into the larger ministries of the First United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Texas. While this work is just beginning it is already proving to be a blessing to our members and community.
As a congregation we are beginning to shift from emphasizing leading and teaching to now being more intentional about building relationships and shepherding. We are becoming more intentional about meeting people with grace and love, empowering them to re-orientate themselves to a Christ centered life, then living out that new life as servants of grace and love.
One of my favorite aspects of this as a person who generally has worked in smaller congregations is that this is very easy to apply to ministries in that environment. I often hear about the “new helpful” tool for ministry only to discover I don’t have the people, resources, or opportunity to use it. This is a resource that is as helpful to small congregations as to larger ones. I pray that you look further into this and that it is as much a blessing to you and your churches ministries as it has been to me and my congregation.