Church dedicates 25 years to change

Youth from Christ Church United Methodist work to refurbish a house in downtown Birmingham. (Contributed)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY – Two years ago, Christ Church United Methodist at 5091 Caldwell Mill Road in Shelby Countyembraced a vision that married discipleship with a vision to serve inner city Birmingham, and now, the marriage is blossoming into a full-blown relationship.

Senior Pastor Paul Lawler called the discipleship and service movement “Flow,” as it follows the flow of the Holy Spirit in Christians as they begin to disciple others and serve in their local communities.

“Flow is not merely a traditional small group ministry. It is that, but what we’re seeking to do is make disciples, which is the task Jesus has given the church everywhere,” Lawler said. “We’re seeking to wed the study of the word of God with missional movement.”

The church made a 25-year commitment to serve the inner city of Birmingham and plant 100 churches worldwide. The church will aim to plant churches in difficult areas such as India, China, parts of Costa Rica and numerous other locations, Lawler said.

He said Flow contains this desire for worldwide impact, but it’s beginning within the church walls. The church is offering small groups that focus on the writings of modern authors and their passion for making an impact on the world.

While the internal community of a church body is important, Lawler realizes that this community isn’t enough for his congregation.

“It’s insufficient to make community itself the end goal. Community is part of the process of transformation, but it’s not the end goal,” he said.

The end goal, Lawler said, is literal, physical actions of the church in the community, and moreover, the world. His church’s 25-year commitment humbly asks to serve inner city Birmingham through student tutoring and mentoring, but also through the refurbishment of homes for the people who live within the city.

Two families from Christ Church United Methodist moved into the inner city to build relationships.

“Authentic discipleship always happens through relationships,” Lawler said.

“Christian formation isn’t complete only in meeting together in small groups,” Lawler said. “It becomes complete when we wed prayer and study in groups with missional movement.”

Flow begins on Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. For more information on church activities, contact the church office at 991-5065.