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Fresh Expressions: Flame of Faith UMC launches “Drinks and Doubts”

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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Click on the photo to see the "Wheel of Doubt" spin. Video and photo by Rev. Sara McManus.

"One of the things that's been important for our congregation, and me especially, is the idea that there shouldn't be anything holding us back from God. The [church] building itself can make people uncomfortable. For people who are struggling with faith, the very idea of walking into a church building feels almost judgmental. They are afraid of judgment," said Rev. Sara McManus, Flame of Faith UMC.  

Members of Flame of Faith United Methodist Church in West Fargo, North Dakota, wondered how they might get young adults in the community interested in church. They started with an event called "Church Chat."

"We did an event called 'Church Chat.' We went to a pottery place where you paint your own pottery, and we had a long conversation," said Pastor Sara. "It was a great conversation. People that came were all members at Flame of Faith, so it was very internal."

After doing "Church Chat" a few times, a new location and idea was fueled by Fresh Expressions. They rebranded and relaunched the gathering, calling it "Drinks and Doubt" meeting Brewhalla, a local venue with choices for food, snacks, and beverages.

"We searched for a central, neutral location. A place where you could walk in and check things out. If you wanted, you could walk away easily," describes Pastor Sara. "We chose Brewhalla. A place where people could sit next to other people, join the conversation, or overhear the conversation. It's just a very public and safe place."

The team that planned "Church Chat" brainstormed and devised the idea for the "Wheel of Doubt." Youth at Flame of Faith UMC put together a list of doubts about faith. The topics were thoughts that other people might have on their minds.

"The connection to the name 'Drinks and Doubts' is from the Wheel of Doubt," said Pastor Sara. "We gathered at Brewhalla in the cafeteria or gathering area. Everybody introduced themselves. We grabbed some coffee or a beer and snacks. I explained we were going to talk about doubts. I asked if anybody had something they wanted to focus on. Everybody was slightly cautious, so we spun the wheel to get started. It was a great icebreaker."

One of the topics on the Wheel of Doubt that was discussed by those gathered was leg day. It is a silly reference to the day when you go to the gym and work on your legs—a notoriously hard workout day.

"We ended up talking about how life is hard and, often, we have to do hard things to get to the good. It ended up being a good discussion even though leg day is a joke," said Pastor Sara. "We talked about why bad things happen to good people. The difficulties of forgiveness—when people have done the unforgivable things, the struggles to forgive."

People walked away from the discussion, knowing there were not always answers to all our questions. "The subtitle for the event could be—God questions with and without answers. We don't have to solve everything," Pastor Sara said. "We are not here to tell you what to do. We're here to help you encounter. You have to be comfortable with saying that there is not an answer to that question."

The first "Drinks and Doubts" gathering was dubbed a success. Another event is scheduled this month. At the first session, a puzzle was available for people to do something with their hands. Some people bought little art kits to help their brain focus.

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"We connected with people outside our congregation. The idea of being outside of the building makes sense. The thing I love about Fresh Expressions is that it doesn't have to be long-term. One of the things that I love about Flame of Faith is that we try things. Some ideas solidify, and some of them don't. It doesn't mean they were not good at the time. Sometimes we need things for a season," said Pastor Sara.

Fresh Expressions Activate Day—Fresh Expressions Activate Day is December 2, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., online. Continue the momentum from Imagine Day at Activate Day. Each team will gather locally and begin the practical steps of cultivating a new Christian community. Attend even if you didn't make it to Imagine DayRegister today.


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000