I love stories! I love telling them, reading and listening to them and am a devoted fan of a number of story-telling podcasts.
I love how stories open us up to the lives and experiences of others. They reveal opportunities, possibilities and limitless worlds beyond what we already know. Stories help us understand and learn from one another and they often stretch us and challenge us to grow or expand our worlds.
As we continue to live into our conference’s SHIFT: From Maintenance to Mission Initiative, we want to lift up as many stories as possible so that we can see more clearly what God is doing in the Wisconsin Conference to transform lives and change our world.
To get this story telling ball rolling, here’s a quick story shared by Gail Irwin, Interim Pastor at Immanuel UCC in Kaukauna:
Immanuel UCC in Kaukauna was early in an interim period when the SHIFT initiative was launched. They had reviewed their history and character and were sensing renewed energy to connect with their neighborhood. When the SHIFT videos arrived, they decided to organize two congregational gatherings to view and discuss them.
After these two conversations, a smaller group met to sift down ideas that would combine something they did well with an outreach to the neighbors. They finally settled on hosting a free community meal. The local police were invited to bring their canine officer by for a visit. Food was donated and flyers were distributed. Members walked the neighborhood knocking on doors to let people know they were welcome.
The night of the event, they fed close to 100 people, with leftovers shared with a local men’s shelter. Families brought their children to meet the police dog and have a free, healthy meal after school and work. A member of another church even dropped by to see if she could help!
We are already feeling that the Spirit moved us in the right direction, engaging more with our neighbors. The rumor is out that another free community dinner will be happening this winter.
What’s Your Story?
If you’ve signed up as a SHIFT Congregation, we want to know what you’re up to. Tell us how you are shifting from maintenance to mission. Who are you partnering with, whose lives are you touching, what impact are you hoping to make?
If you’re planning to engage with SHIFT this fall or sometime in 2017, let us know your plans by signing up as a SHIFT congregation. What is your dream or hope for how the SHIFT conversation might support your efforts to touch the world with God’s love?
If you’re not sure what all this SHIFT business is all about, that’s o.k. Watch the introductory video to see whether or not you’re ready to begin making a shift to transform lives and touch the world with love.
As we share our stories with one another we know that resources and ideas will emerge from unexpected places. We are confident that hope and enthusiasm for what God is doing in our midst will grow. We believe that our sense of what is possible will expand and we will surprise ourselves with our own strength, vitality and courage in facing the challenges and embracing the opportunities of this time and place.
So don’t wait another moment. Don’t second guess the inspiration you feel right now. Reach out, share your story. We can’t wait to see what God is up to in Wisconsin!
If you have questions about SHIFT contact Rev. Tisha Brown