Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ACE #439: What Really Happens 'After Church'?

This article was posted in a newsletter last summer for the Kentucky Annual Conference of the AME Church.  I thought it was important that I share it more broadly with our audience.  I have updated it to reflect more recent activity. Enjoy!

For a little over a year, my husband and I tried to figure out what ministry we could do together.   He was already doing a Men’s Basketball Fellowship Ministry.   I was serving as the coordinator for the Women’s Fellowship Ministry at our church and as the long-time church pianist.  At the time, we were both working on a college campus, so our days were fairly exhausting by the time we finished our daily commute and tended to our daughter.  Even still, we knew there was more ministry work to be done, not just in the church, but in the community and beyond.  As we both reflected on our professional careers and the thin line we had to maintain between our professional positions and our witness for Christ, we wanted to be mindful of how we represented and conveyed the messages about the God we serve. 

One morning while sitting at my desk at work, the Lord clearly said that it was necessary to reach beyond the four walls of the church building, especially if we wanted to reach our students who often seemed misguided, broken, confused, hurt and unsupported.  I shared the idea with my husband; he was hesitant at first.  Writing is my thing - not his.  He agreed that this was where we would begin; The ‘After Church’ Experience blog was born on September 13, 2013.  Little did we know that this occasional publication of online articles would expand into what would become part of our “greater works” for the Lord. 

What is The ‘After Church’ Experience?

The 'After Church' Experience is an online platform designed to minister to people outside of the four walls of the church building. We recognize that life's biggest challenges happen "outside" of the formal church experience. We want to ensure that our busy lifestyles make room for God. We challenge ourselves and others to show we are unashamed, undeniable, and uncompromised in our love for Jesus Christ! "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

Out of the birth of this small ministry has come the idea about a week night Men’s Prayer Call that Robert leads along with our pastor.  It was his desire to see the men of the church grow and strengthen their prayer lives to cover their families and to become greater leaders in the church.  As for me, something else developed that was really a personal call for obedience – the bi-weekly Bible Study Buddy Conference Call for non-clergy.  I had often heard people talk about the difficulties of studying and interpreting the scripture as well as the time constraints they have during the week.  This new venture was perfect timing.  We studied the Minor Prophets, rotating between Thursday evenings and early Saturday mornings.  It was taxing, but well worth it.

Participants for both ministries hail from Kentucky and as far as Texas and Maryland.  With more than 50,000 total page views, readers for our blog have represented several countries including the United States, Germany, Argentina, France, Kenya, South Africa, Australia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, India, the United Kingdom, China, Ukraine, Indonesia and Russia. 

The online ministry has also expanded to include audiovisual presentations, because that’s his thing.  We’ve also adopted the tagline: It’s what happens ‘after church’!  After all, that is what true discipleship is all about – going out and making disciples – by any means necessary.  We are grateful for the vision God has given and continues to give us as we work within His will and His way. 

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