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Moving Back to the Basics in Ministry By Ashley Marr

Saturday when New Life Community Church organized a member meet-and-greet to fellowship, it was met with optimistic expectations. More churches moving to secularism is the reasoning for basic Christian foundations being lost in ministries. In the Shelby County area only about 25.9 percent attend church regularly (on a consecutively three weekend basis a month). The county has over 2,000 churches and of the percentage that goes to church, 78 percent choose big churches having 401-800 members according to americanchurch.org. To break the numbers down further, 169,685 people attend church regularly in the county with 132,354 choosing big ministries. Annie Hill, a minister who has attended the church for 22 years was excited about the meeting. I want to connect with my church, meet and connect with my prayer partner. I was serious about this, said Hill. The church is a non-denominational church pastored by L.C. Marr, Jr. The churchs mission statement is out of the seats and into the streets. Their aim is to be the missionaries they believe Jesus called them to be. Although, members expressed this is not possible without connecting within the church first. I came here not knowing anyone and I still dontAnd unfortunately thats still the case except for one sister in the church, said Evalyn Dumas, giving her number and address freely and making reference to her decision to join a small church and still feeling disconnected. Members like Dumas are looking for that community atmosphere that smaller churches, characterized as having 299-400 members, offer. Members who attend smaller churches typically want to connect more and build communities. Larger ministries and megachurches usually are the community amongst themselves. The move to secularism involves more practical teaching, motivational speakers often instead of traditional preachers and sometimes less mentioning of Jesus. Many church leaders now have taken on more casual dress codes and celebrating secular holidays like Halloween. After attempting to attract membership and community many churches began minoring in the majors. Teachings commissioned by Christ of forgiveness, love, and charity are second to growing churches numerically and financially. The basis of Christianity is loving, God and neighbor. Jesus asks in the Bible how can one love him, whom you have never seen and not love you brother and sisters who are seen daily. Yet, the bills, community activities and missionary work must be paid for. God didnt send you into a ministry where the pastor believes in one thing [prayer or helping people] and you dont, said Marr.

Marr has dedicated his life to community service and building bridges. His vision for his ministry is the same. He stresses the importance unity above all. When the organizer asked attendees to say a little about themselves, for those who have known each other for years find out they did not know each other at all. Majority present have known each other for years, sprinkled with a handful of newcomers. These newcomers chose a smaller church for connectedness and thankfully churches like NLCC are choosing to get back to the basics: community. Like Dumas said, You cant fellowship until you know the fellows on the ship. For more information on NLCC or these statistics visit theamericanchurch.org and newlifechurchmempis.net