“Would I be able to try to start Yoga Church?”
I’m not sure those were the exact words, but it was something like that uttered by Dawn Lynch years ago. She knew that the “vision” was there, but for some reason the staff assigned to carry out that vision just wasn’t interested. Passionate about the vision, Dawn started to pursue it.
That passion turned into attending school to become certified as a Yoga instructor (I hope I am using the right words). Now, she has empowered a team of people to hold and pursue that vision, continuing to broaden the ministry, all the while looking for new ministries to offer people Christ.
Dawn is continually networking, building relationships, and showing folks what loving God and one another looks like in real-time.
This morning, my daily blog from Seth Godin talked about “Who is holding the camera?” You can read the blog post by clicking here, it’s a short read.
But the point is powerful.
There was more than one man that walked on the moon. But the iconic picture is only of one person. So, who was holding the camera? Even in the world of selfies, according to Godin, “We need people to hold the metaphorical camera. But when they do, they’re often not in the shot. That doesn’t mean they’re not doing important work.”
West has many folks that do important work. But, we are running a church of 400+ people w/ three full-time staff. Over the past few years as different full-time staff have felt called to different places, we’ve not replaced them because of the realization that our grant monies were going to come to an end. We did not want to face the decision of having to let staff go if we weren’t able to receive more funds. This stuff happens in most businesses, realignment, reassignment, etc.
But what I want you to know is that your staff work tirelessly.
They don’t count their hours . . . vacation is rare, and even when it happens, it sometimes involves work. (This is one of our goals for the future, because Sabbath is a real thing and something all staff need to work on).
I’m not telling you this to whine or make you feel sorry for anyone.
I’m sharing this with you because I hope over the next week you’ll take some time to express your gratitude for our staff. I don’t do it enough and odds are, we can all do better with that.
This week Dawn was highlighted in an article published by our conference on Fresh Expressions.
She is a gifted minister . . . and we are lucky to have her leadership and vision. Take a few moments to see the impact Dawn’s leadership makes.
I’m so grateful she holds my camera.
A fresh expression offering healing and support.
Dawn Lynch, certified yoga instructor and fresh expressions network leader.
When my family moved from Boone to Huntersville, Dawn Lynch brought us a meal to welcome us to the Lake Norman area. It meant so much to us in a time of major transition. She’s an incredible friend and a gifted fresh expression leader. West UMC where Dawn is on staff is one of our best examples of how a church can catch on to the fresh expressions model and start a bunch of them. In today’s newsletter we focus on one of these fresh expressions, Community Yoga. I asked Dawn a few questions about how the group came to be and how they were able to start so many fresh expressions at West UMC. Enjoy!
Tell us about your church.
I serve at West Church LKN in Mooresville, NC, where Andrea Smith is the Senior Pastor. We are a mobile church that meets at Lake Norman High School at 10 AM on Sundays for worship. We are a missional church that exists for those who are done with traditional religion, don’t have a faith home, and are seeking to make a positive impact in the community and beyond. It’s my privilege and honor to serve as the Connecting and Missions Catalyst. I’ve been on staff full-time at West for seven years.
What is your fresh expression of church, and what is it like?
Our fresh expression is called Community Yoga. Community Yoga meets weekly in the evening at The Lowe’s YMCA. We strive to provide a welcoming environment to explore transformation through mind, body, and spirit practices to become more loving. The community is diverse and inclusive.
How did it get started?
We noticed many of our small groups would stop meeting in the summer and pick back up in the fall. So, the West staff brainstormed ways to connect during the summer. We devised a plan for six activities called “Fun Fridays.” “Yoga then Beer” was one of the experiences we hosted at a local brewery during the summer of 2017. We grew through interest quickly. At that time, I was a part of an fresh expressions cohort, which gave me the training and connections to develop this experience into an ongoing fresh expression. Pastor Charles Dirico was in the cohort and he led a Yoga Church fresh expression. Our yoga leadership team formed and visited Yoga Church in Charlotte. Initially, we met once a month but quickly moved to meeting twice a month. After our sixth month, we began meeting weekly in January of 2018.
Community Yoga at the YMCA.
What is one of your favorite stories from it?
There is no way I could choose just one. I’m continually in awe of who God leads to Community Yoga. Often, we experience folks who are going through tremendous life changes, either due to an illness or the loss of a loved one, who’ve found a place of respite. Several ladies with cancer connected through Community Yoga as a means to slow down and process the pain and life-altering diagnosis. A young man who lost his wife and found community and relief from grief. A mom seeking a place to get away, process, cope, and breathe. Her family was dealing with her husband’s terminal diagnosis (who beat unbelievable odds and is now cancer-free).
Since starting this one, you have spun off several more fresh expressions at West. How did you do it?
West was leading fresh expressions before we knew what fresh expressions were. WOW (Worship on the Water) and Crafted Conversations were some of the first before I was on staff. So, you can say that it’s been a part of our DNA, and West Church has always had an adventurous spirit. We intentionally do things differently so that folks harmed by or are done with religion might consider giving spirituality or church a try again or for the first time.
Currently, we prayer walk together, read spiritual fresh expressions resources together, lean in on the strengths and passions of our people, then have “what if” conversations, and encourage leaps of faith! Our pastor leads with a “if you’re not failing, you are not trying hard enough” spirit that encourages us and removes the fear of trying new things.
The early years of Community Yoga that met at the brewery.
What is the spiritual element of your fresh expression like?
The philosophy of yoga is based on the belief that we are all connected and that everything in the universe is interconnected. Each yoga guide sprinkles in spiritual meditations throughout the class as a way to connect the mind, body, and spirit. We encourage the community to go inward and connect with the divine within each of us.
What is something you have learned from leading this fresh expression that would be helpful for others to know?
Nothing happens by accident. Lean into the community by getting to know/spending time with local business owners, neighbors, and church members. When things are not working out, they may be falling into place; go with it and follow the flow.
What are you excited about coming up in your fresh expression?
Our leadership team has grown exponentially by nine members this year. One of our leaders has founded a non-profit called GiveYogaNC, which partners with local non-profits to provide yoga for communities who cannot afford it. We are so excited that folks want to get involved more deeply and meaningfully.
Please let Dawn know your gratitude for the ways she leads.
Grace and Peace,