Title

A Little child shall lead them back to community and communion.

Date of Award

5-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church faces a crisis: a postmodern world has taken away our Lord. As seeker-sensitive mega-churches retreat after a desperate bid for relevancy, traditional congregations see their demise as part of a more widespread collapse. Yet, who knows? Perhaps God has called all churches, regardless of worship style, for such a time as this. The mostly-retired members of Asbury United Methodist Church wonder how much longer the congregation will survive on the corner of DuPont Highway and Basin Road. Yet while young families have left the church, the Asbury Child Care welcomes fifty children each week. The money the Child Care pays the church for rent keeps the church afloat. We wondered what would happen to the relationship between the congregation and child care family if the church became host instead of landlord. Since we were gifted at making and serving food (to each other and to our hungry neighbors), we decided to invite our child care family to a series of suppers on Wednesday nights during Lent. We trained our members to serve as Table Hosts. We welcomed children by offering them the freedom of unstructured play after supper as well as an invitation to join in stories, songs, and activities celebrating the special place of children in God's realm. In the course of the suppers, we discovered Christ's presence in the gap between our congregation and our neighbors. As we celebrate our Seventieth anniversary, we see God's grace as an abundant gift to all, rather than a dwindling resource. Christ's calling to host our neighbors in love invites us to discover the body of Christ in our neighbors. In this new millennium, Jesus Christ calls the one, holy catholic, and apostolic church to a Pentecostal Pilgrimage from our pews to a feast of love and grace with our neighbors. And if we need help, the little children will show us the way.