By Rev. Jason Zemke
In my studies of John Wesley’s theology, I am intrigued by two aspects of his ministry that have shaped me for my ministry. First was his method of reaching local communities with the good news of the gospel through field preaching and going to where the people were gathered. Second, was his desire for the church to be connectional in nature as people worked together for the good of the gospel.
I have often contemplated Wesley saying the world was his parish. What would it look like today if we took our parish to the world rather than making the world come to our parish? I think this statement aligns perfectly with the great commission from Matthew 28:19-20.
One of the dreams I have for ministry is to find ways to bring the local church together with the community and to do so in a connectional way. While each local church can do great things for the furthering of the gospel, my desire is to work connectionally with other local United Methodist churches.
The opportunity to become engaged in a Fresh Expressions cohort seemed like the best place to start. The focus on creating church in a new way to reach people for Christ while focusing on long-term discipleship struck a chord with me. Engaging in a Fresh Expression of church opened the door for me to find a way to take the parish to the world and to go and be where people are.
Earlier in 2018, I began discussing the possibility of a Fresh Expression with others in my church in Johns Creek and a neighboring church in Rowell. After several meetings in some local area breweries, the concept of "Serveza Sundays" arose. The title "serveza" is a play on the Spanish word cerveza and says to our community that they can find service and beer in a single setting.
I wanted to create a community of people who gather for fellowship and also engage our local communities in service. That's the goal of Serveza Sundays -- to take the love of Christ to our community through service while also engaging people where they are.
June 24 was the first Serveza Sunday. We have since met twice a month in a local Alpharetta brewery where we spend time together and take part in various service opportunities. This Fresh Expression of church has allowed Mount Pisgah UMC and Northbrook UMC to engage connectionally with one another while sharing the gospel through our words and actions. The brewery is willing to partner with us, so we can promote the service element of Serveza Sundays while setting up opportunities for theological dialogue.
Each month we will focus on a new service opportunity to meet a local community need, while at the same time working to engage the patrons of the brewery to join us in this mission. (The picture is from a sandwich-making outreach for local children who otherwise might not have lunch in the summer.)
Jesus went to the people and engaged them where they were to share the knowledge the kingdom of God had come. John Wesley viewed the world as his parish and did all he could to advance the gospel and make disciples for Jesus Christ.
Through Serveza Sundays, we're making an effort to engage the de-churched and un-churched in our community for the sake of the gospel and the furthering of God’s kingdom -- while enjoying a pint!
Rev. Jason Zemke is the Connect Pastor at Mount Pisgah UMC in Johns Creek. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.