After all, Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit - why not make it a fruit of Sunday morning worship?
So says pastor Russell Clark of First United Methodist Church in Reddick FL. Russell, just a few years out of seminary, has seen Sunday attendance more than triple in his 3 years of ministry there.
Russell says it's not just because he stresses the joy of knowing Jesus, but because he takes pains to visit and care for the older folks in the congregation. Be inspired by an enthusiastic young voice that's not afraid to try new things.
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Russell Clark puts on skits, dresses up as a super hero, and isn't ashamed of having his formal pastor's photo hanging on the church wall depicting him as a disco dancer. Here are the notes from my interview:
Show Them You Care
Creative liturgy can come across as gimmicky if it's all sizzle and no steak. That's why Russell makes sure pastoral care visits and easy accessibility are hallmarks of his ministry. People are more willing to be patient with change when they trust the change-agent.
Look for Cross-Generational Opportunities
How about having the youth in the church lead a forum to help the older folk learn how to text, get on Facebook, and use technology? It affirms the gifts of the young while lending a hand to those who are older.
Make Them Smile During the Creed
Russell was so determined to have his congregation experience the joy of congregational life that he preached on, then urged the congregation to smile during the Apostles' Creed. The congregation responded positively - some even purchased smiley face masks to playfully joke with their pastor.
About Russell Clark
Russell Clark received his bachelor's degree in Christian Education and a minor in Theatre Arts from Texas Wesleyan University in 2005. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in 2009. He has been the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Reddick, Florida since July 2010. First UMC, Reddick is his 1st pastoral appointment. Before moving to Florida, he served at different churches throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Texas as either youth pastor or associate pastor since 2001. He has been the guest preacher and skit talent for a number of youth mission trips, youth revivals, and youth conferences. He is pursuing ordination with the United Methodist Church. Russell and his wife, Shannon, currently reside in Ocala, Florida with their two dogs and are expecting their first child.
Books Russell Recommends
Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World
Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith
Russell also recommends this recent article on church growth.