Thanks to Christa Meland for sharing this Great Idea from Rev. Jo Anne Taylor of Willmar UMC in the MN Annual Conference UMC newsletter!

In “Pandemic Prompts Willmar UMC to Look Outward”, Meland outlines three ways Rev. Jo Anne Taylor has led Willmar UMC to shift gears in order to reach more people in new and different ways during the pandemic – all of which will continue to broaden and deepen the congregation’s engagement and presence with the communities they serve well into the future.

The first significant shift was to adopt the Covenant Church’s practice of leading committee and council meetings according to an “Agenda of Thirds”, in which each meeting addresses three key questions: Where have individuals seen the Holy Spirit at work in their life? Where have people seen the Holy Spirit at work in the congregation or community? and, based on those two discussions, What decisions need to be made to join in God’s work?

The congregation has also implemented a cross-committee collaboration approach, encouraging different groups within the congregation to be more intentional about working together on both interior and outreach ministries. A zoom format has made this easy to facilitate – and helps feed committee decisions and ideas directly into the council’s agenda. It has also enhanced how the congregation views itself and how it uses its buildings and grounds as tools for engaging with the broader community.

Multi-modal worship will stick around post-pandemic as new families are being reached via online and local cable broadcasts. The congregation’s approach to recording worship elements allow in-person and at-home worshipers to enjoy the same music and sermon while eliminating the danger of singing together.

Read more about each of these three approaches and the positive impacts on both the congregation and community in this article.