Our Story: The Return of the Family Pew…


I remember going to church as a child and always having “our pew”. We would walk to the same isle and seat every week.  I know many members who would politely ask you to move down if you were in their place.  Many churches even put name plates on the pews to designate who donated the funds for that pew, so you could verify ownership.  It seems times have changed. All we hear is the world is changing and the way we do things has to change.  We talk a lot.  But what does this look like?  If we had the answers we would stop talking… family-pew-1At The Vine UMC in Charlotte, we have at least gone beyond conversations to implementing an attitude and atmosphere of “welcome”.  Take an ultra-traditional church filled with passionate Christians and add a pastor with heart and vision for those who want nothing to do with “church” and you get The Vine.  A little Attention Deficit Disorder helps as well. To create the right environment the core group launching this ministry, volunteers from other congregations, other youth groups, and so many others have invested time, energy, and resources to transform the sanctuary into a traditional/non-traditional home for everyone. All this was done with very little expense to the congregation. A total transformation of the chancel area was the beginning.  Removing pews and adding “a lounge” has been the next step. Yes, we replaced some of the precious pews with love seats and side tables. The “new family pew” has arrived. We are added “hospitality stations” in the rear of the sanctuary for coffee and sweet treats. Yes, we allow coffee and treats to be enjoyed while worshipping even if you sit the “regular” pews that still fill the front of the worship space. If this is “God’s House” shouldn’t we be comfortable. Families that like their pew still have them.  But there are many new “pews” with throw pillows and softer cushions that are already being claimed. family-pew-2 This story came from Rev. Mike Harris of The Vine UMC in Charlotte

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at hfleming@wnccumc.net.


  • Resources
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.