A Wing and a Prayer
By Rev. Blake Trent
Like so many of the churches in our conference, LaGrange First UMC has been working hard to connect with younger generations. This year we started our first Fresh Expression with the hopes of getting to know those outside of our own walls. In September we launched Wing Church, a conversation-based worship experience that happens twice a month on wing night at Brickhouse Grille, a local restaurant in downtown LaGrange. We gather there to share in community, conversation, and of course chicken wings.
When our Evangelism Team first got the feeling that Wing Church might be where God was leading us I, along with a few others, started talking with some of the millennials in our community. We connected with people in restaurants, pubs, and through networking lunches for young professionals.
What we found to be true is that many of them were interested in getting together with people their age to talk about the things that really matter. What we also found to be true though, is that a lot of young adults are more comfortable gathering in a restaurant than in one of the classrooms of a downtown church. That is what led us to wing night at Brickhouse. We promote each meeting via Facebook and with "leave-behinds," like coasters with our logo on them that we leave on our table after we are finished talking.
Over the last few months, Wing Church has grown and developed into a consistent group that includes people from a variety of backgrounds. At almost every gathering we have people who identify as Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Atheist and a handful of folks who identify as Christians but do not attend a church. At each meeting, we begin with someone sharing their life story. We do this as a way of being vulnerable and as a way to grow closer to one another. By the end of the year, we hope that everyone who has attended regularly will have shared their story. Afterward, we usually read a verse of scripture and I ask a few question that allow us to discuss what the passage may mean for those of us of gathered around the table.
One of the more meaningful things that we have done thus far is pack UMCOR cleaning buckets (or flood buckets) for those affected by the many storms that swept through the Southeast this fall. After we packed the buckets we formed a circle around them. Each of us, both religious and non-religious, said words of healing and restoration over the buckets. It was a powerful thing to behold.
Wing Church will continue to meet bi-monthly through the end of the year. We are currently planning the schedule for gatherings in 2018. If you are ever in the LaGrange area stop by and visit with us. We would love to have you join us for a wing and prayer!
Rev. Blake Trent is associate pastor of LaGrange First UMC. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.