Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dear friends of Munger Place Church,

Construction at the church is really moving along. For the past month, we've had a Sistine-Chapel-style scaffolding set up in the sanctuary. Click here for pics. This has enabled the workmen to get right up close to the ceiling and work, and what they've done looks great. Also, the construction crews have set up scaffolding on the outside of the church as well, which means that the community can finally see that we mean business!

Please keep praying for the Lord to do a mighty thing in and through Munger Place Church.
Andrew Forrest
Pastor, Munger Place Church

What We've Been Up To
On Saturday, August 7, we had a workday in the Munger Education Building (the old Wilkinson Center). When the funds for the Munger project were raised, we anticipated that the Wilkinson Center would continue to use the Education Building for years to come. For strategic reasons, they decided at the end of 2009 to shift their focus to their I-30 and Buckner location, and so we found ourselves with an empty 3 story Education Building. Since no funds were raised to renovate the building, we'll be renovating the building ourselves. (It's in pretty good shape!) So, we've begun the process, and will be working on that building in the months to come.

On Tuesday, August 2, we got word that a family that formerly attended the old Munger Place United Methodist Church suffered a house fire. Many of our team members offered to help the Lopez family in any way possible, and it was encouraging to me to see how committed our folks are to service in the name of Jesus Christ. Maybe the "church" hasn't opened yet, but I think the church at Munger Place is doing a lot of great work!

What's on the Calendar
Tuesday, August 17
7-9 PM
Kate Miner performs at the Lakewood Whole Foods

Sunday, September 26
6-8 PM
Sunday in the Park
We are putting on a free concert in Garrett Park (across from the entrance to the Munger Place Church)

Tuesday, October 5
National Night Out, Tietze Park (on Skillman Street)
We'll have a booth and will be doing face-painting and temporary tattoos

Saturday, October 9
Gladiator Games
8:30 AM-4:00 PM
We'll have a booth and will help Camp Gladiator put on their annual outdoor fitness event.

Sunday, October 10
Preview Service at Munger Place Church
Join us for a "dress rehearsal," and invite your friends!

Sunday, October 17
Preview Service at Munger Place Church

Saturday, October 23
We have a busy Saturday. We'll be assisting with the Taste of Greenville event, and we'll have a booth at the Lakewood Service League's Walk/Wag/Run.

Sunday, October 24
Public worship begins at Munger Place Church!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two Lessons From Munger Church Planting Camp

On Friday evening, June 25, and Saturday, June 26, 90 people attended our Munger Place Church Planting Camp. Our presenters were Jim Griffith and Don Smith, who, between them, have coached and consulted hundreds of new church starts. I was really pleased at both the number and the enthusiasm of our participants. Weekends are precious, and for that many people to commit to giving up part of their weekend is encouraging.

Two points that Jim and Don made have stayed with me. The first was their emphasis on the importance of us being in the neighborhood, in spending time in our "mission field." If we are trying to reach people that currently don't have a church home--and we are--then we cannot assume that those people will come to us. Rather, we need to go to them. We've taken Jim's advice to heart, and last week, for example, we took lunch to the employees at the neighborhood grocery store as a way of introducing ourselves to them.

The second point that Jim and Don emphasized was that church planting is difficult, and that we should expect opposition: spiritual and institutional. What this means is that we need to be praying and fasting and asking the Lord to do a great thing at Munger. As we move closer to launching weekly worship, please pray for us.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our October launch date is quickly approaching! To help us get there, we're having a big training camp for all our volunteers on June 25 and 26. We'd love to have you join us: there is more info below. Please keep us in your prayers throughout the summer.
Andrew Forrest
Munger Place: a United Methodist Community of Faith

What We've Been Up To
  • We've taken over Monday evenings at Exodus Ministries. Our volunteers run a program for the children while the moms take evening classes. And, we're putting together a team there to lay some new flooring in some of the apartments.
  • Our weekly Bible study in the Munger neighborhood is going well. We meet on Tuesdays at 6:45 PM, three blocks from the church.
  • We asked a few of our folks to tell us what fires them up about Munger Place. Click here to see the resulting video.

    Munger Place Church Planting Camp

    The most important thing we are doing this summer to help Munger Place get off the ground is a Church Planting Camp we are running on June 25 and 26. Jim Griffith, who does training events all over the country, will be with us, as will Don Smith. We will be discussing the nuts and bolts of how to get from where we are right now to weekly worship in October.

    For anyone who wants to be involved at Munger Place. This would be a great first step for you to take if you would like to be involved. (Childcare provided.)

    5-9 PM, Friday, June 25
    9 AM-3:30 PM, Saturday, June 26

    Highland Park United Methodist Church

    Register Here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Worship—Old and New, Ancient and Future

“Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52).

People often ask me, “What will worship at Munger be like, traditional or contemporary?” The short answer is that we’re still working much of that out. But, the following are some guidelines we’ve set for ourselves as we move toward our October launch date.

Two Experiences

In February, I attended an Ash Wednesday service. When instructed to do so, I walked forward and approached the minister, who drew a black cross on my forehead with ash and said, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Repent, and believe the gospel.” As preparation for Easter, that whole sequence was a powerful reminder of my mortality and the eternal life that Jesus offers. There is no resurrection without a dying.

For Easter, I attended the Cornerstone Sunrise service. As the service began, Dave Wilson, the worship leader, greeted us with the ancient Easter greeting, “Christ is Risen!” To which we were instructed to reply, “He is risen indeed!” This call and response was a celebratory affirmation of Christ’s Easter victory over the forces of sin and death. That call and response never fails to move me.

What do we mean by “Traditional” and “Contemporary”?
The words the minister said to me during the imposition of ashes, and the greeting that Dave shouted to us in the dark on Easter morning, both came from the liturgy, or a traditional format for public worship that the church has used for centuries. They were not extemporaneous. Many of us dislike liturgical prayers and responses, because we grew up in churches where the liturgy was something dead, not something living. We heard people intone liturgical prayers and responses in numbingly boring voices and we never saw any of the life that a relationship with Jesus was supposed to be about. And so, we decided that any thing liturgical—any thing not extemporaneous in worship—was lifeless and should be avoided.

This dislike of formulaic worship is the reason why many of us were drawn to so-called “contemporary” worship. Just like liberal and conservative, however, “traditional” and “contemporary” have come to mean whatever we want them to mean and are not very useful words. But, for the purposes of this discussion, let’s define contemporary worship as being non-liturgical, i.e., attempting to be extemporaneous by explicitly not drawing from the resources of the liturgy when planning worship. Let’s define traditional worship as being more liturgical and the music of traditional worship being organ-based hymns. For many of us, contemporary worship seemed alive and life-giving, that is, the very qualities traditional worship lacked.

Something old and something new?

And yet, there are liturgical resources that can be life-giving, and I want to bring back some of those in worship at Munger. According to Jesus in Matthew 13:52, the Kingdom of Heaven has both the old and the new. I want to push worship at Munger to incorporate both the old and the new in worship. In fact, this sort of fusion of the old and the new, the ancient and the future, perfectly fits both our sanctuary and our neighborhood. We are renovating our sanctuary to highlight the best parts of the old (the stained glass, the dark wood) with the best parts of the new (21st century audio and video technology, not to mention air conditioning!), and this is exactly what folks do who buy old houses in East Dallas: they buy old houses because they like old houses, but they also like 21st century kitchens and bathrooms, and update accordingly. I want worship at Munger to incorporate the best parts of the old and the new.

Hymns and Choirs: Traditional or Contemporary?
I would like us to incorporate some of the great hymns of the faith into a contemporary praise and worship style. I see no reason, for example, why we couldn’t sing the great Charles Wesley hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” with a rocking band instead of an organ. And why can’t hymns be sung to a thumping base line laid down by a bass guitarist? I think they can.

We tend to associate choirs with traditional worship. Why? Why can’t a choir sing with a praise band every week? I think a choir will really enrich the worship experience at Munger.

Is reverence an attitude or a style of dress?
In the Munger Place context in 21st century East Dallas, I believe that for our worship services to be hospitable for our neighbors, clothing for worship should be casual. That said, though, casual does not have to mean irreverent. Why can’t we deliberately cultivate a sense of the holy in our sanctuary and still do so in jeans and drinking coffee? I think we can.

Ancient and Future: Liturgical and Technological resources? Together?

I want us to use some of the ancient liturgical resources of the church and incorporate them into a worship service that also uses some of the newest trends in video. So, why can’t we have a Munger Ash Wednesday service that has the imposition of ashes accompanied by the traditional liturgical formula and a really moving video about repentance? I think we can.

Doing what nobody else is doing
We are not starting a new community of faith at Munger Place just to give the folks at Highland Park more options for worship. Rather, we are starting a new community of faith at Munger Place because we want to reach new people with the Good News of Jesus. And, to quote Craig Groeschel, if we want to reach people that no one else is reaching, we need to do what no one else is doing. Many churches in Dallas offer vibrant contemporary worship, but I think there is an opportunity for us to offer a new ancient/future form of contemporary worship that will help us reach people no one else is reaching.

Our Goal
Most importantly, though, we want Munger worship to be a place where people can meet the one Lord to which the scriptures bear witness, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All the other planning and tinkering we are doing needs to always be done with that larger goal in mind. May the Holy Spirit help us be faithful to that goal.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kate Miner gig

Put it on your calendar now - Kate Miner at Opening Bell Coffee, Friday, May 28th @ 10PM

What is our motivation?

Starting new churches is the best way to reach new people for Jesus. That is a fact. (Study the missionary work of the Apostle Paul, and you'll quickly see that his method was to start new churches in urban centers throughout the Roman Empire. It was a successful method, to say the least.) The reason we are starting a new church in the old Munger Place building is because we want to reach new people for Jesus, and thereby be faithful to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

But, why do we want to reach new people for Jesus? What is our motivation? Let's start with what isn't our motivation. First, we are not motivated by a desire to recruit people to our side or our team. In other words, our desire to reach people for Jesus and help them become his disciples is not about increasing our numbers and thereby becoming a powerful group. If that were our motivation, it would mean that people were merely the means we need to reach our end, and we reject that premise. People matter for their own sakes, and not for what they can do for us. Second, we are not motivated by a desire to show the Lord how many people we're reaching, in order to gain his favor. We are not going to be "collecting" names as credit in our heavenly bank accounts. That's not the gospel. The gospel is that we already have the Lord's favor: we don't earn it.

So, why do we want to reach people for Jesus? Because we believe that Jesus offers abundant, eternal life, and that he offers us that kind of life now! All around us are people who are looking for abundant life in unsatisfactory ways. We want to point them to Jesus and say, If you drink from regular water, you'll be thirsty again, but if you drink from living water, you'll never be thirsty again (see John 4).

We want to reach people for Jesus because we believe that Jesus offers something of supreme importance that we cannot have without him: abundant, eternal life! One way that Jesus gives us abundant life is that he heals us from sin. Sin is a major problem in my life, and I suspect (no offense) that it is a problem in yours as well. If sin is like sickness, then the death and resurrection of Jesus is like a life-saving vaccine, and the resources of the church (the Bible, corporate worship, fasting, prayer, etc.) are like medicines the Holy Spirit uses to help us convalesce.

May the Lord continue to heal us from the canceled power of sin, may we come to have abundant, eternal life, and may he use Munger to do the same for others!