Can megachurches partner with York mainline churches?

Our editor, Jim McClure, made an interesting point at the end of his blog post on major religion developments last week:

The megachurches should consider planting smaller churches in York city and in more heavily populated areas of York County. They should do this because those are fertile mission fields, but also to add resources in neighborhood suffering from poverty. The Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene has shown such insight, investing heavily in the Chestnut Street area near the old prison.

In this 2011 file photo, Northeast Neighborhood Congregational Alliance conducted their vacation Bible school on the grounds of Alexander D. Goode School. Over one hundred children participated in the vbs and over two hundred free meals were served. The NENCA consists of neighborhood churches, Asbury U.M.C., First Moravian, First Presbyterian, Friendship Baptist, Grace U.M.C. and York city campus of Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene.

I found the idea a perfect solution to the problems I am seeing as I visit churches in the city and outside it. Mainline church buildings downtown are sparsely attended and in desperate need of an injection of youth and energy.

I spent a little time Monday night at First St. Johns Lutheran Church on West King Street. I shot a video of a karate class taught by associate pastor Jose Montalvo. The church also offers a kickboxing class — all part of its ongoing efforts to attract younger people.

And Montalvo’s class had about 12 young people in it, so it seems to be working. I sense that some of the churches are at a point where they are ready to try anything. Over the summer, Heidelburg UCC began offering a coffee shop with musical performances on Fridays.

Meanwhile, the sparkling modern megachurches outside the city are full of life, people and programs. Lives Changed By Christ and Grace Fellowship are two churches who have expressed strong interest in mission activity. Grace is already doing work inside the city and hopes to partner with city churches.

Seems the potential exists for these modern churches to breathe some life in the older churches. I’m not sure what doctrinal divides exist, but it seems they could be bridged for the betterment of the citizens at large. Here is a piece about megachurches doing city missions.

I have a date to sit down with Pastor Michael Anthony of Grace soon. I’ll be sure to bring it up.

Would you be more likely to attend an older city church if it offered more programs and energy?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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