“There are so many ways to style your Sunday morning here, which I think is one of the greatest things about our church . . . and that makes the opportunity for everyone to gather between classes and services extremely important. Those impromptu conversations and the joy they bring are huge — it’s what brings us together as a church family.”
— Lisa Helm, Director of Welcoming Ministries
Remember “Where’s Waldo?” You know, the popular children’s books with the cartoon character in the red-and-white-striped shirt and glasses? Here’s a quick refresher: Each illustration includes at least a dozen people doing lots of different things in the same location. The challenge: Skip over the strategically placed trick characters to find the one-and-only Waldo. Seems easy enough, right?
Things aren’t always as simple in everyday life. There are so many people in so many places that it becomes more and more tricky to find your way through the crowd. Take our Sunday mornings at First Church, for example. When we look at the big picture, there are so many great people in so many great places within our church. Even though we are at the same location on Sundays, that doesn’t mean we really see each other like we should. So we took a closer look and realized what we were missing. That’s why FUMCFW created Connections. Whether you are a member, visitor, or guest, we want everyone to have a place and way to find one another on Sunday mornings.
Lisa Helm, Director of Welcoming Ministries, says she thinks that’s what has been missing for us — a way for all of our different worship communities, studies, and Sunday School classes to connect between these opportunities. “We offer so many ways to spend our Sunday mornings, and there will be even more opportunities now with The Gathering and the new nine:thirty-nine celebration starting on Sunday, February 14,” Lisa says, “There are so many ways to style your morning here, and I think that is one of the greatest things about our church.”
Although there are many opportunities for worship and other Sunday morning offerings, Lisa says she feels like some people who are visiting or only go to a particular service may end up leaving right after because they don’t feel connected or plugged in. “Let’s face it, walking into a Sunday School class or other small group can feel a bit intimidating,” she admits. “But if you’re casually visiting after the service and strike up a conversation with someone who invites you to their Sunday School class, it’s much easier because those natural, organic connections are the most powerful.” Lisa believes Connections will offer a place and opportunity to have a casual conversation with different people — whether you are catching up on the most recent football games, announcing a new grandchild, or sharing thoughts on a spiritual concept. “Think of the discussions that people could have about the sermon messages or Sunday School class — anything they did and enjoyed that morning,” Lisa points out. “And think of how much more warm and inviting it is for a church member to ask you to come to something, and offer to go with you, as opposed to finding out about it on your own and walking in alone.” She thinks this is what will pull people to be more involved if they are already members, or make that leap and become a member because they feel connected.
Lisa says she sees Connections as an extension of what we have always done in the Garden, and what she thinks most people associate with the churches they grew up in. “It’s where you went and had coffee and donuts and visited with everyone to find out about what’s happening in their lives,” Lisa adds. “I think that’s how we connect with other people at our church, and that is such a huge part of why people go to church. They go to worship but also want to be with other worshippers and be part of a community.”
Each Sunday between services, from 10:30 – 11:00 am, Wesley Hall will be set up and ready to offer members, visitors, and guests from all our different Sunday morning worship and study opportunities a chance to visit, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy a Sunday morning treat. And when the warmer weather returns, we will open the doors to the Garden and enjoy the great outdoors together. Lisa says this is one of the best ways to use this space. “When you open those doors, you’re enjoying inside and out, and when the weather’s nice, and our eleven:eleven band is playing, well, there’s just nothing like it!” she exclaims.
Remembering our recent gatherings in the Garden, Lisa says that one of her favorites is the one that our Mary Martha and Ruth UMW Circles hosted together in November. These ladies were on hand to offer hospitality, delicious cookies, and live music by Jo Elliot. “The weather was gorgeous, so we opened the doors for people to be in Wesley Hall and the Garden,” Lisa recalls. “Everybody enjoyed the beautiful piano music and refreshments, and it was just perfect.”
From Lisa’s perspective, this is something that we could do every Sunday — and not just for special occasions. Her hope is that we take this opportunity to come together as one big faith community and connect with people from our various morning groups on Sundays between services. “At the end of the day, we are all part of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth,” Lisa says, “so I think providing a specific opportunity for everyone to gather is important regardless of how you spent your morning.”
Connections will begin this coming Sunday, February 14, in Wesley Hall. The UMW Hannah Circle has offered to host, and Lisa says she can’t wait to see what Valentine’s Day treat these lovely ladies have in store for us. Any individual or group can host Connections, and this is a great opportunity to find new and creative ways to gather as a community. If you are interested in hosting, contact Lisa (email@example.com) at 817/339-2403.
Make your way to Wesley Hall or the Garden between services from 10:30 – 11:00 am on Sunday mornings to visit, enjoy coffee and treats, find your place among the crowd — and more fully enjoy the big picture of our Sunday mornings together.