June 5 Gathering: What will the church of the future be?


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The evidence is plain: church attendance and participation are in decline in America. It’s been that way for a few decades now, and some trends project that as few as 30 percent of Americans will receive their primary spiritual direction from a local church by 2025. In fact, some data indicates that as many as 2,000-3,000 churches close every year (source).

As fewer and fewer people participate in church activities, the church itself has tried many different approaches to stem the tide. Google “Church Growth Strategies” and marvel at the number of (mostly very expensive) programs that are available. We have mega churches, micro churches, house churches, restaurant churches, warehouse churches, and, yes, even pub churches.

But are we just trying to feed an irreparably broken model for what the church is and how it works? Are all our “new” ideas really just ways of pursuing the Einstinian definition of insanity, trying to do the same thing to achieve different results?

Or are there ways to redeem the church? To reinvent it for new generations of people who view the world through much different lenses than those who came before?

This week at New Wineskins we’ll look into our collective crystal ball and talk about what a new kind of “church” might look like, act like, and feel like. We’ll look at the question from each of our unique local contexts, and discuss ways we might begin to spark the conversations that will lead us forward.

Join us this Sunday, June 5, at the Marietta Brewing Company as we think about what the next incarnation of the church could be and what we can do to bring it about!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

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July 26 Gathering: What are we afraid of?


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pond5.com

“Do not be afraid.” “Fear not.”

It’s one of the most common phrases in scripture (although, despite popular internet memes, it doesn’t show up anywhere near 365 times–once for each day of the year). Whenever you see puny humans being approached by the living God, the command is clear: “Do not be afraid.”

In fact, it is fear, not hate, that the apostle John posits as the opposite of love:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:18)

So why is it that modern-day Christians seem to be not only consumed by fear, but thoroughly driven by it? How has fear gone from something explicitly commanded against to our primary motivation for our words and actions? How does a fear-based theology fit with the inbreaking kingdom of heaven?

This Sunday at New Wineskins we’ll talk about some of what’s at the root of our fears, how it drives our behavior, and how we can try to live beyond fear.

Join us in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company this Sunday, July 26, and be part of the conversation!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

 

June 28 Gathering: Guest Speaker Dina Andrews–Helping Lift People from Poverty


This Sunday at New Wineskins our guest speaker will be Rev. Dina Andrews, Director of the Circles Campaign of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Inc.

Circles® is a national initiative that seeks to empower individuals from all economic backgrounds to solve poverty in their communities. The Circles model started in 2000 as a way to increase the capacity of communities to address poverty by combining best practices in several disciplines, including community organizing, coaching, grassroots leadership, SMART goal setting, financial literacy, mentoring, peer-to-peer counseling and learning, and child/youth development.

Dina is an ordained Deacon with the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church and serves as the Pastor at Stephenson United Methodist Church in Parkersburg, WV and is an Associate Staff Chaplain at Camden Clark Medical Center. She is a graduate of the Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a Master of Arts in Counseling Ministries and a Master of Divinity. She’s also an occasional guest and long-time supporter of the New Wineskins community!

Join us in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company this Sunday, June 28, to hear from Dina about how Circles® is helping people right here in the Mid-Ohio Valley and how to get involved!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

June 14 Gathering: “Way, Truth, Life”


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This Week we visit The Greenhouse of St. Marys, WV!*

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

— John 14:6 (NIV)

Are these words from Jesus, as many claim, a formula for guaranteeing an afterlife in Heaven? Is it a claim over against all other religious and/or non-religious belief systems?

Or are these words spoken to the disciple Thomas filled with more meaning than we give them credit for? Could the specific context of the disciples lend insight? Why would Jesus choose these specific words in the run-up to his crucifixion?

This Sunday at New Wineskins we’ll dig a little deeper into this famous quote from John’s gospel and probe its more holistic nature. Far from a claim for Christian exclusivism, we’ll examine it as a call for those who follow Jesus to live a particular kind of life.

*As a special treat, this week’s gathering will be held at The Greenhouse of St. Marys, WV! Bring a lawn chair and the beverage of your choice (adult or otherwise) and enjoy some tasty treats from the Greenhouse’s renowned grill masters. Click here for directions.

We’ll gather under the majestic trees of Historic Abicht’s Landing for drinks & snacks at 6:30pm. Conversation begins at 7:00. Invite your friends and join us for this week’s gathering!

May 31 Gathering: Listening to the Prophets


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pond5.com

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NRSV)

Contrary to popular belief, the main job of the biblical prophets was not to predict the future. Their primary purpose was not to make seemingly nonsensical statements that could only be understood in their later fulfillment through the gift of hindsight.

The role of the prophets was first and foremost to be a critic in their own time and place. To point out where Israel had wandered from its purpose, to show the way back, and to warn of the inevitable consequences of following an ultimately destructive course. Only then did they communicate God’s promises to restore the nation following a period of exile and suffering.

We tend to think of the prophets as people from an ancient time who no longer speak into our lives today. And yet, the apostle Paul insists that God gifts some to be prophets within the church. Does that still hold true today?

If so, who are the modern-day prophets? What are they saying? How can we listen to them?

This week at New Wineskins we’ll take a look at the tradition of prophecy in the church and discuss how the prophetic voice is still speaking to us as we navigate our current times and circumstances. Bring your questions and be prepared for a lively discussion!

Join us in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company this Sunday, May 31, and be part of the conversation!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

May 17 Gathering — Less = More: A story of abundance


Photo courtesy of Ginny McKinney

Photo courtesy of Ginny McKinney

We’re all about story here at New Wineskins, and this week we’re thrilled to welcome a great storyteller with an amazing story to tell!

Ginny McKinney, a recent newcomer to the New Wineskins family, will be our guest speaker at this week’s gathering. You won’t want to miss her incredibly inspiring (and really, really interesting!) story.

Ginny was born and raised in West Virginia. She has spent her adult life first in England for two years then Colorado for the last forty. In March 2013, she and her husband (whom she affectionately refers to as Mr. Virgo) set out to buy a travel trailer for some retirement fun. They were standing in the fourth one, picking out which one they wanted, when he had a heart attack and died.

Within two years, Ginny has sold her Colorado house, purchased a 24′ camper and a pickup truck, sold or given away 95% of her possessions, and hit the road. She documents her journey daily on her Facebook blog, Marshmallow Ranch, with a growing number of devoted followers. She speaks to groups about empowering widows to live adventurous lives with the premise that “Just because HE died, doesn’t mean YOU did!” Her book should be published within the year.

Ginny divides her time between WV, CO, and someplace warm with sand and little umbrellas in the drinks.

We hope you’ll plan to join us to hear Ginny talk about living through tragedy, downsizing life, and living abundantly. It’s sure to be a dynamic topic for discussion!

Join us in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company this Sunday and be part of the conversation!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm

 

May 3 Gathering: Future Past–How can church history show us where we’re going?


Creative Commons

Creative Commons

The new testament writers describe the early church movement as one that happened in homes among small communities centered around the story of Jesus.

As the church grew and became more and more structured, it also metamorphosed from a counter-political movement to a place where the church and state were virtually indistinguishable.

So how did we get to where we are today, with an institutionalized church headquartered in buildings, properties, systems, and structures? More importantly, what are the implications of our early history for our current context? How can looking at our past help us understand who we are in the present? And, perhaps most importantly of all, how can it help us imagine our future?

This week at New Wineskins we’ll explore some of the “hidden years” of the early church movement, talk about how Christianity went from persecuted to prescribed, and think about how God might be shaping the church to come.

Join us in the 167 Side Room of the Marietta Brewing Company this Sunday and be part of the conversation!

Happy Half-Hour: 6:30pm

Conversation Begins: 7:00pm