I have learned much about God's people during the past seven years of the Sidewalk Sunday School Ministry. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that Sidewalk has given to United Methodists across the nation is a lesson in love and people; that for all our differences, we are much the same and simply put, we need each other. The Great Commission mandates from God's people that we go forth and share God's Love and Word with all people. There are millions who do not know the name of Love. I believe that the process of street evangelism is critical to reach the unchurched children and their families. The time is at hand to express the voice of Hope and Sidewalk Ministry is the vehicle. The methodology of the Sidewalk worship experience has been embraced as both a new church start model as well as a key component of revitalization of existing churches. Sidewalk is a multi-generation faith community serving the unchurched children and their families in this country and beyond. Through prayer, my heart yearns for a new dream to become reality. The vision for Sidewalk is now three-pronged. Our mission statement reads:
"That every United Methodist Church under gird the Sidewalk Ministry, either through prayer, financial support, or through active ministry."
1) Prayer. I believe that prayer is the singular most important tool that we as Christians can utilize. Our Sidewalk families are aware that we believe in the power of prayer. If your church were to become a prayer partner, this is how the process would work. A specific Sidewalk site would email or mail each week's prayer requests to the pastor. We ask that these prayer requests be shared on a weekly basis with the congregation - from the pulpit is ideal. What our families pray for touches the hearts of all who hear.
2) Financial Under girding. This could mean anything from a yearly special missions offering to adding Sidewalk as a line item in the church budget. Support is welcome at both the local or national level. Future goals include everything from a major urban ministry center to a bus fleet to a foundation to sponsor Sidewalk Ministries who cannot finance their own needs.
3) Active Ministry. There are two opportunities for active ministry. One is for the church to engage in the site ministry of Sidewalk Sunday School, as a satellite faith community of the local church. The other is to become a partner church with one of the Sidewalk sites - which is a tremendous help to the site team. An example of this would be: Lakeview United Methodist Church partners with my site in Phoenix, Arizona. Each month (each month!) our "grandmas and grandpas" cook hot dogs, bring potato chips, pop and tootsie rolls, providing a meal to our Sidewalk families. Don Olson, President of Lakeview's UMM, has been instrumental in the organization of this outreach. This is definitely a "win/win" ministry for all who are involved. I believe it is interesting to note that Lakeview UMC, an upper middle class retiree congregation, has a waiting list of one year to come to Sidewalk. There are smiles, shared stories, boundaries crossed and relationships in Christ built.
This is the dream. I pray that you will help make the dream a reality.
Church Billie K. Fidlin Associate Council Director, Desert Southwest Conference 1.800.229.8622 billie(at)desertsw.org