Went into Hammond yesterday to take some pictures, and I was struck by what a failure the United Methodist Church has been. We have one church in the north part of Hammond/Whiting/East Chicago --- and it is small and failing to reach the community. It's not the pastor's fault --- believe me, pastors want people to come to church, and have been known to sell their souls to get the crowd to come. The problem is --- we don't know how to reach those that are on the edges, especially when the church is made up of the middle class (which most UM churches are).
The East Chicago United Methodist Church closed in the late 80's or early 90's, and today houses a Pentecostal Hispanic congregation. Rather than minister to the people in the neighborhood (which obviously changed over the years) we would rather close the doors. Same is true of Centenary UMC which closed the last year or so.
Christ UMC faced the same dilemma in the late 80's. Today the many of the former members attend Ridge UMC in Munster.
The question is --- What must we be doing at Ridge UMC to reach those around us, rather than just taking care of ourselves?
What are your thoughts?