UNDAUNTED: Local Pastor Continues to Think Outside The Box while Preaching God’s Word
Chris Schoolcraft is at it again. Just when it appears this local pastor has run out of ideas, he fearlessly steps out from an airport hangar decked out in an aviator jumpsuit, Ray-Ban sunglasses and a bomber jacket.
Not to worry. Schoolcraft won’t be doing any skydiving on this day — or any day, he says — nor is he trying to reenact a movie scene as if he was Maverick from Top Gun. He did, however, joke that the thought of getting him several thousandfeet in the air for a wild stunt may have been intriguing for some of his staff members at Argyle United Methodist Church.
“This is the sort of stuff my staff does to me. Seriously,” Schoolcraft laughed.
Either way, the idea of having Schoolcraft step out of his comfort zone as a dashing flyboy — even if for a photo shoot — is a great metaphor for his latest sermon series called Undaunted: Embracing God’s Dream.
According to Schoolcraft, Undaunted brings forth the idea of facing deeper issues in our lives head on — without fear — so that we can get to the bigger questions that need to be answered. The sermon, which he plans to run for seven weeks beginning on April 19, is meant to both guide and challenge us to look beyond the typical goals we have set for ourselves and our family and learn how to be courageous enough to seek out ways to make a difference in things that are transcendent.
“A lot of the feedback I’m getting is, ‘OK Pastor, what’s next? After the next tournament for my kid, after the next promotion or the next house we buy, what’s next? What can we do that has meaning?’
I feel like if we are going to be a church, we need to deal with the longing for significance people are searching for,” Schoolcraft said.
That’s where the idea of the hangar and jumpsuit photo shoot came into play. Schoolcraft isn’t suggesting that we all prove our fearlessness by jumping out of a plane. What he’s trying to say is much deeper; let’s open ourselves up, let go, recognize there is a bigger picture, and don’t be afraid to seek it out.
“Sports and school are important, but we know that they are not everything. How do we make our faith an integral part of those and other areas of our lives? For others, when school, sports or cheer are over, the questions are have we raised motivated, compassionate and grounded kids? How can we teach our kids to make a difference in the world and our community?” Schoolcraft said. “We want to walk people through those questions and hopefully give them enough tools for them to say, ‘This is what I want our family to spend the next chapter of our life doing.’”
This is not the type of sermon that can lay out answers to life’s questions in an easy seven-step format, Schoolcraft warned. There are some who might come to church hoping for quick answers to a more fulfilling life, but life is far from easy and the answers one family seeks will likely be drastically different from their neighbor.
What Schoolcraft wants to do is walk alongside his congregation, spur healthy conversation and soul-searching within the community, and through those actions, slowly begin asking the right questions.
It’s all part of a bigger plan to constantly keep his congregation, and the community, engaged.
Since joining the church in July 2013, Schoolcraft and his staff have instituted several out-of-the-box ideas to help Argyle United Methodist Church become more than just a place to worship. Some of their ideas include Worship Without Walls, a continuing project where, instead of a holding regular services, members go into the community to visit nursing homes, beautify neighborhoods or bring food to malnourished children.
It can include various other goodwill projects and simple, yet effective, random acts of kindness.
The church also kick-started a financial-strategy campaign called Revolution. It is based on the teachings of financial expert Dave Ramsey and is designed to educate both members of the church and the community at large on ways to make better financial choices.
“I think most of the time when people come to church, they want the seven answers to a fulfilling life. They are drawn toward easy, cookie cutter solutions because there is so much information. The world is so overwhelming that it’s like drinking from a water hose,” Schoolcraft said. “What they long for, though, is help in understanding answers to deeper questions. We want to help them navigate that path.”
He added, “People don’t want to just attend church, they want to be engaged. I’m not as much concerned about crowds on Sundays,
I just want people to feel like if they want to get involved, they will make a difference. Their time will make a difference and their resources will make a difference.”
It’s all in a life’s work.
And for those curious, this Pastor is never short on ideas — unless it involves jumping from a plane.
“I will not jump from a plane,” Schoolcraft said. “They (staff) wanted me too, but I said no. If I do it, we do it as a staff.”
Anyone wanting to help or needs more information on any of the programs at Argyle United Methodist Church can call the parish office at 940-464-1333 or visit them online at ArgyleUMC.org