An outpouring of God’s grace and love
“We want them to feel ownership and excitement over being part of this church, instead of having them simply plug in to what the church is already doing.”
Pastor Chris Schoolcraft and his staff would love to take credit for every out-of-the-box idea that has made Argyle United Methodist Church the unique and inviting place of worship that it is today.
But they know better than to believe they could do any of it on their own. It takes a community.
“We have a bunch of people just sitting in a room in the back of the church [thinking of ideas],” Schoolcraft said with a laugh. “In all seriousness, my experience is that everything we do has to be driven by the people of the church. We invest in our lay people.”
That is why AUMC, in conjunction with its volunteers, is happy to introduce a new Saturday evening worship experience called Outpouring. This new service will be in addition to the church’s regular slate of three Sunday services but caters to those families and folks who can’t – or in some cases wouldn’t – normally attend church, yet are searching for a casual, family-oriented worship service.
This is an opportunity to join something that is still being formed. Schoolcraft said they have been running preview sessions of Outpouring before launching into weekly services in March, and the services are completely flexible and open to suggested changes to better meet the needs of the community.
“We do it at 5 p.m., so it’s late enough for people who have athletics, but not too late so that they still have time to eat dinner as a family and spend time together,” Schoolcraft said.
“I had people telling me, ‘We want to come on Sundays, but when we do that, that’s the only time our family has time to spend together. So when we come, we feel guilty because we’re not doing things as a family. And when we are with our families, we feel guilty because we aren’t at church. So can you give us a reason to stay in Argyle and worship as a family while still having a day to ourselves?’”
Krystal Stroud, the church’s director of communications, said the church jumped at the idea of giving people what they want, and she loves the idea of Outpouring because of its inclusiveness.
“It’s more relaxed than your typical service,” she said, adding that there is a group of 12-15 volunteers constantly searching for ways to perfect Outpouring.
“Why attend Outpouring? Well, we are still discovering that. It’s not one thing; it’s evolving. Parents can bring their kids in their cleats and not feel guilty. People who work Sundays have a chance to worship. It’s a great out-of-the-box concept.”
Like previously mentioned, Schoolcraft, Stroud, and the rest of the staff didn’t need their arms twisted to make Outpouring happen. They just wanted to make sure they did it right.
“There are churches that do some great things with weekend services, but their culture is very much that every service is the same,” Schoolcraft said. “On Sundays, we were able to recognize we have three different worshiping communities of people, so the people that come to the 8:15 a.m. service are different than those that come to 9:30 or 11. We wanted to create another community that is shaped by the people that want to be connected to it.”
Schoolcraft said society is moving past the times where people are committed to just one brand. People want to connect with churches that are willing to connect with them. They want to be engaged.
Which echoes the church’s open line of communication with its congregation – and the community. If you haven’t guessed by now, communication has always been at the heart of what this church does.
When Schoolcraft came in 2013, one of the first things he noticed was how eager his congregation was to approach the staff with ideas. And they weren’t just any ideas, they were fresh and representative of the different sects of the community – all of which were thirsty to be a part of something special.
As word spread about the great things happening at this church, those devout members of the church started bringing their friends, family and coworkers. And from there even more ideas were born.
All Schoolcraft and company needed to do was take action.
Some of their ideas over the last few years included soul-searching sermons such as Undaunted and large-scale projects like Worship Without Walls, a continuing community project where, instead of holding regular services, the church has its members go into the community to visit nursing homes, beautify neighborhoods or bring food to malnourished children.
Those initiatives include other goodwill projects and simple, yet effective, random acts of kindness. This past Thanksgiving, the church served meals to the more than 180 clients, staff and volunteers for Health Services of North Texas, even going so far as to send vans to pick people up who could not drive to church.
“I’ve been with this church for two years and I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of an organization that cares this much. People are excited to be here.” Stroud said. “I think we’ve created an environment where we empower people to talk to us, and we ask a lot of questions along the way. We are approachable.”
The church also kick-started a financial strategy campaign called Revolution last year. It is based on the teachings of financial expert Dave Ramsey and is designed to educate both members of the church and the community at large on ways to make better financial choices.
All of it plays into what Schoolcraft wants – an environment where worshiping God meets people’s spiritual needs. Outpouring is another example of that.
“There is a passage in the Bible and it talks about how God pours out love and grace on people. And when that happens, he sends us out in the world to share,” Schoolcraft said.
9033 Fort Worth Dr. • Argyle, TX 76226 For more information, call Argyle United Methodist Church at 940.464.1333
~by Steve Gamel
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