We are sending out a monthly email about NLI each month. Sign up for this email by emailing Hannah.
Read past emails below.

MARCH 7
My name is Betty Schiele and I am a member of the Next Level Innovations (NLI) team at St. Mark’s. I was raised Baptist. My parents were very involved in the church and my siblings and I were expected to follow in their footsteps. However, my grandmother’s father was a Methodist minister in South Dakota, so moving from the Baptist churches we attended growing up to a Methodist church was not a huge step. Many of the hymns are familiar and on the surface, worship and Sunday school, youth and children ministries are the same. The history, of course, differs.

I signed up for the Sunday evening Gospel study. As an NLI (Next Level Innovations) committee member, I was strongly encouraged to attend but it is also a study that Jim and I could attend together. I did the reading for the first session and found myself deep in the history of Wesleyan doctrine. I had never really given much thought to where the Methodist beliefs came from, but now I want to know more about John Wesley and the history of Methodism. What was the faith struggle and what challenges did he face?

Going from there, what is my/our current faith struggle and what challenges do I/we face? It is a given that if churches aren’t willing to adapt, they will not survive. Churches all over are facing this struggle and some are thriving and some are dying.  St. Mark’s is in the midst of this struggle. So far we are hanging on but shouldn’t we be doing more than just hanging on?

Are we willing to look inward, evaluate and work to fulfill our mission “To Grow, Live, and Love as Followers of Christ”? Do we want to be a part of something bigger? Or do we just want to show up and let someone else drag us along?

We have the opportunity to look at ourselves and what we are doing right and what we need to improve with our current ministries. I encourage you to attend our Ministry Focus Event this Sunday, March 10 from 12-2 PM in the CLC. Lunch will be served and there will be childcare. You will have an opportunity to share what excites you about St. Mark’s. Every ministry needs a champion! Click here for more information.
I look forward to seeing you there!

JANUARY 31
My name is Ron Flournoy and I am a member of the Next Level Innovations (NLI) team at St. Mark’s. The NLI process is about casting a refreshed vision for St. Mark’s so that we may become the church for all people.

When is the last time you ventured into uncharted territory? There have been events in my life like getting married, having children and changing jobs. In each new experience, I did not know what the future would hold.

Venturing into uncharted territory is scary because there is usually not a clear path. You may not know what the final destination is or how hard the journey will be to get there. Feelings of doubt and uncertainty can cause fear and anxiety. This typically motivates us to quit and run for safety. It takes courage to keep moving forward when you are not sure where you are going.

As a person of faith I find courage through prayer, reading the Bible and consulting with friends and family. When I let go of my need to control things and allow God to lead, He restores my faith and strength to keep going no matter what. Only by continuing the adventure into uncharted territory can we discover amazing new things.

The NLI team invites you to join us for a spiritual formation study during the season of Lent. These sessions will be held on Sundays from 5:30-7:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall beginning February 24. Other dates include March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, April 7 and 14. These lead up to our ministry focus event later this spring where we get the chance to express all the things we love about St. Mark’s!

NOVEMBER 29
My name is Hannah Hopper and I am the Communications Leader for the Next Level Innovations Initiative at St. Mark’s.

Our Breakthrough Prayer for this season is below and I’d like to focus in on one line in particular:
Dear God, may your Holy Spirit fall on us like a mighty rushing wind, opening our eyes to see the wonders you are already doing in our church and community. Remove our current limitations that prevent us from being the Church that you desire us to be. Fill our hearts with awe, like the first disciples. Help us discern the work that you are calling us to do so that we can be the Church to all people.

There have been several moments this year where I’ve found myself in awe of God working through our middle & high school students and I’d like to share a few of those with you. I have been serving with our Student Ministry for almost 6 years, and I have witnessed tremendous growth of the ministry during this year in particular.

The first year I helped with Youth Sunday, we had 8 students involved and no student musicians. This year, I experienced God’s presence in a powerful, unexplainable way as I had the opportunity to lead worship with a full band of 10 students and 27 more who helped lead at each service.

When I first started volunteering, there weren’t any other regular volunteers. Now there is an active Student Ministry Team with 10+ volunteers that are with our students most weeks.

We took 3 kids on the first mission trip I was involved with; this year we took 15 on our trip to Philadelphia and I watched them serve and care for God’s people in big, life changing ways.

There are a lot of good things that have come out of the ministry this year. At our SMT meeting last month, our students shared about their experience with small groups. Of everything I’ve mentioned, I have to say the most exciting moment for me was getting to hear that these kids are experiencing community with God and the people of St. Mark’s in authentic ways and ultimately taking ownership of their faith.

How is your heart being filled with awe? It’s my prayer for you that you are able to be filled with awe as you reflect on what God is doing in our church and community. Continue to pray with us as we prepare for all God is calling us to this coming year!

NOVEMBER 1
My name is Karyn Kimball and I am serving as the Prayer Coordinator for the Next Level Innovations Initiative here at St. Mark’s. This week I had the pleasure of attending a Breakthrough Prayer Workshop taught by Rev. Dr. Sue Nilson Kibbey, with several others members of our congregation. All I can say is, “WOW”, the possibilities are endless. We need to ask ourselves these questions:

·        “Do I believe in the power of prayer?”
·        “Do I believe God speaks to me?”
·        “Am I brave enough to listen and act when I hear His call in my own life and in the life of my church?”

What we learned this week is that if we believe, if we pray, if we listen, and if we act Boldly and Bravely, God will show us the way to the future of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.

Join us on Tuesday, November 13 from 6:00–7:30 pm for our Breakthrough Prayer Workshop to learn more about what you need to do to help move St. Mark’s into God’s future. We are providing a spaghetti dinner catered by Joe’s Inn for this event. If you plan to join us, please RSVP here https://stmarksmidlo.com/nli/rsvp/.

God Bless,
Karyn