By Sasha Terry

Marysville United Methodist Church is currently living into a challenge to birth 10 new expressions of faith with its surrounding community over the next 30 years. The church recently initiated its first expression of faith by utilizing nearby Living Room Coffee House to introduce the community to God in a new way.

Before this challenge came to life, Rev. Jenny Smith was convinced that the church needed to experiment with different ways of connecting people to God. She started several years ago by inviting her congregation to pray for guidance in building an idea. This prompted the church to invite Rev. Dr. William Gibson to Marysville for a visioning conversation, and encounters with new ideas and resources, sparking the idea of 10 expressions of faith over the next 30 years.

Ten expressions of faith in the next 30 years, or 10 in 30, is an idea of discipleship and for encouraging the community to explore faith and God in alternative ways from attending a church service.

Rev. Smith looked first for an expression of faith that would be relational and might warrant an offsite location. The idea of utilizing the existing Living Room Coffee House soon emerged as a possibility. Established in 2014 by Pastor Kim Reynolds of The Hillside Church, a small non-denominational church also in Marysville, The Living Room Coffee House was envisioned as a place where the community can gather and talk about God. The church later struggled financially with the venture and it became a completely separate entity from the church.

On May 8, the Marysville UMC took charge of the space and member Kate Kilroy became the executive director of the space. Kilroy is also assigned as a full-time church planter to Marysville by the Pacific Northwest Conference. With a team of volunteers, including members from The Hillside Church, she is working to improve the common area with various ways for the community to experience faith.

“It’s really fun to get to develop leaders outside of the established model, at the new expression and all the different ways I’m connected as well as within the congregation,” Kilroy said. “We are striving to offer God to a community that right now all uses different language to define that so it’s really important that we honor the culture of those individually different groups.”

The common area is located at the nonprofit Living Room Coffee House in Marysville, a mile to the west of the Marysville UMC. The space is a hub for multiple meetings for spiritual development and activities that gather simultaneously. Marysville UMC is striving to offer God to a diverse community that uses distinct languages and culture by providing different ways of learning such as bible studies, open mike nights, hikes and more.

“One thing that the church learned through all of this, they’re constantly reminded that for so many other people, church will not look anything like what they think it should look,” Rev. Smith shared adding that it’s an incredible privilege to share with people that “they are loved, they are forgiven, and they could be a community that changes their lives and that’s why we do it.”

Marysville UMC is seeking to continue their mission and create nine new opportunities for the community to learn about God by 2050. They are also looking to develop more leaders to help progress the 10 in 30 idea and grow them spiritually through regular check-ins with church leadership. Kilroy is currently working with a team to form a new expression for this winter to share with the community.

Rev. Smith believes leaders of churches that desire to start an idea similar to the 10 in 30 idea should keep a few things in mind.

She cautions that they must be “incredibly prayerful and discerning about who in their existing faith community, God might be calling to take on some of that work and say yes to that new call.”

“I would definitely encourage leaders to wrestle with why,” Rev. Smith added. “The willingness of a leader to go deep into themselves and to really wrestle with that, I think really gives some good soil for a vision to emerge.”

Sasha Terry is serving as a communications intern for the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference this summer. She is a student at Biola University majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast and minoring in Biblical and Theological Studies. 

Leave a Reply