WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE GATHER?

 

Worship

 

One valued aspect of our uniqueness is that of our approach to worship.  The word “worship” originally meant “worthship”—to declare the worth or value of something.  For us, the value is that of learning to live in profound communication with God, one another, and the whole of creation.  Toward that end, our pastor’s messages are prepared and delivered with a two-fold goal:  to inform and to inspire—for one central purpose.  That purpose is to facilitate a process of meaningful transformation aided by the soundless movement of the Spirit of God, that Jesus said would be present wherever even two or three are gathered together in his name.

 

But the unique aspect of each gathering is that we make it possible for our people to reflect meaningfully on a particular theme for the day, not just within themselves, but also with others who are present.  To help facilitate that process, our worship gatherings are followed by an opportunity to engage the message of the day in dialog with one another and the proclaimer—the one who has shared the message in worship.  In an informal group setting after worship, our people can ask questions, request additional information, and share their own insights.  In addition to broadening and deepening our perspective, this process also creates a deeper, more meaningful sense of community that caringly embraces even any visitors present with intentionality, openness, love, and caring.

 

Education

 

We also set aside a special Sunday each month for our members and friends to participate in an educational opportunity.  Since we value discussion in our fellowship, there always is a great deal of constructive input from the group in addition to valuable insights shared by the facilitator.  Three aspects of uniqueness characterize each gathering.  (1) We will never insult your intelligence.  Always there will be something to help you grow!  (2)  You will not be condemned to hear only that which you have always heard.  We will seek to take you deeper than you may have had an opportunity to go in many other venues.  And, (3) refreshingly, you will find a group that values diversity.  You will not be forced to agree with anyone else’s viewpoint in order to “fit in” or to be respected and loved.  Instead, we hope that we will be able to learn from you as we hope you will learn from us.  So we will not keep you in kindergarten spiritually!  But one must be present regularly to experience the benefits.  We take seriously the words of scripture that apply to much more than prayer; “Seek, and you will find!”  “Ask,” “knock, and it (reality) will be opened to you.”

 

The basis for our educational opportunities for learning and discussion ordinarily is a challenging book that helps persons to be able more creatively to live out their faith in everyday life.  Sometimes, we also use a qualitative DVD.  But the goal of each group encounter is to educe the best in us, to bring out our valuable God-given potential.  In biblical parlance, we refer to that as tapping the all-important image of God within each of us, empowering each person to engage in an exciting process of personal and communal becoming that can expand our horizons and lead to a more meaningful life buy alprazolam online .

 

Mentoring

 

Another unique feature of the CCM (Community Church of the Midlands) fellowship is that our pastor, Dr. John Whatley, offers each person in our fellowship an opportunity to engage in a helpful process of spiritual mentoring—to meet with him once a month in a private, individualized session to facilitate deeper and broader spiritual growth than would be possible through worship and educational gatherings alone.  Why?  In a group setting, the facilitator or proclaimer inevitably “shoots,” as it were, with buckshot.  The buckshot scatters everywhere, and we hope that it will “hit” a number of people in the group in a way that will be helpful.  But in an individualized setting, with only one or two persons present, the mentor can “shoot” with the precision of a fine rifle—that is, to gear comments and responses to the specific needs of that one individual or couple; so greater progress is made much faster than in a more general group setting.

 

But what happens in a mentoring session?  The person or couple that engages in this potentially transformative experience can bring up anything that he or she wishes—any life experience at all, any joy, any concern, any issue—and brainstorm it with Dr. Whatley.  He responds to wherever the individual or couple happens to be, their own interest, their own perceived “growing edges.”  Together, the mentor and the other person(s) will be able to explore relevant spiritual teachings as well as helpful psychological insights that relate to their own lives and that can enable them to live more fully, deeply, and joyfully.

 

There are other places in our city at which spiritual mentoring can be obtained, but usually it is available only for a fee.  In our fellowship it is available free of charge.  Our pastor does not accept compensation for his services, but if the recipient would like to make a love offering to CCM, that would be acceptable.

 

Fellowship

 

At CCM, we have multiple opportunities for fellowship, both individually and collectively.  As individuals, some of our people choose, during the week, to share a meal together, to go to a movie, play, or concert, to watch a special television program, to go for a long walk during which they share thoughts and experiences, to talk on the telephone or text regularly, and connect with each other in numerous additional ways.  As a group, we frequently have enjoyed delicious covered dish meals and have celebrated special occasions (especially at Christmas, at Easter, on anniversaries, etc.) with a banquet at a local restaurant with a private room.  Also, we have relished other forms of enrichment by taking out-of-town trips for social events and, especially, to hear noted religious scholars speak on various topics.  On one occasion, to celebrate our church’s anniversary, we traveled to the Hendersonville/Ashville area to enjoy an excellent buffet and to see an outrageously entertaining play at the outstanding State Theater of North Carolina.  Recently, a group of us traveled to Charleston to hear nationally famous religious author, Dr. Dianna Butler Bass, then enjoyed dinner together at a cozy little Italian restaurant dear to the heart of locals.  Also, in addition to such special occasions, at least a few of us, on a regular basis, go out for lunch together after each of our Sunday gatherings.

 

Outreach

 

Outreach at the Community Church, of course, is not unique; but we do think it is important.  Our fellowship reaches out to individuals and groups to offer support and various forms of ministry.  Each person who wishes to do so chooses a ministry, either in the church or in the community—or both, depending upon his or her own gifts, talents, time availability and interests.  These ministries have included providing meals for sick or shut-in persons, mowing lawns, providing house cleaning services, giving baths and offering other services to the elderly, providing mentoring for elementary, middle school, high school and college students, baby sitting, mending garments, visitation with lonely individuals and persons with handicapping conditions, pro bono legal services, providing transportation to medical appointments, guardian ad litem services, prison ministry, and regular hospital visitation for a number of hours each week.  CCM members are not lazy!

 

All of the aforementioned ministries were chosen and carried out by individuals in our congregation who chose lovingly to make a difference in the world.   In addition to our individual involvements, as a group, our fellowship elected regularly to visit and take snacks to a special facility that provides assisted living for persons who can no longer care for themselves.  Faces always lit up when we walked into their “home away from home,” mainly because a number of them had been abandoned by family and forgotten by friends.  In addition to personal, face-to-face services, our fellowship, since its inception, has contributed monetarily to over 15 worthy organizations and causes, including, especially, Bread for the World, Doctors without Borders and other medical services to underserved people in other countries.  We also have helped to support various mission causes, both at home and around the world.  Finally, we have contributed to the work of several religious organizations such as the Cooperative Fellowship, The Alliance, the South Carolina Christian Action Council, Interfaith Partners of South Carolina, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the Center for Progressive Christianity. There also have been helpful efforts to provide earthquake and flood relief in our own United States and for numerous countries abroad.  As a small fellowship with limited financial resources, we definitely have tried to do our part.  We believe that our tiny contributions to multiple causes, combined with the greater resources of more wealthy organizations, can help to repair the world.  Our scriptures teach us that even a nearly destitute widow’s pittance is of value!  So, with determination, hope and caring, we continue, to reach out to those who need us.