Ministry idea: Post-it identity

Members of Sonoma (California) United Methodist Church attach  color-coded Post-it notes to show their level of interest in various church ministries. Photo courtesy of church member Dave Chambers.

Members of Sonoma (California) United Methodist Church attach color-coded Post-it notes to show their level of interest in various church ministries. Photo courtesy of church member Dave Chambers.

Commentary by David W. Chambers

Is your church welcoming a new pastor? David W. Chambers, a member of Sonoma United Methodist Church in California, shares the following idea:

Sonoma (California) United Methodist Church, with about 100 families, faced a challenge of clarifying our identity recently as we prepared to receive a new pastor. And we found a novel way of doing it with colored Post-it notes.

We had the goal of showing the pastor the ministries we offered and what ministries people might be interested in starting.

A few months prior to the exercise, the church council conducted interviews with members and identified the congregation’s four focus areas. These were modified slightly to create four themes: (a) personal spiritual growth, (b) church worship and committees, (c) service in our community, and (d) global and general causes.

Large pieces of poster paper were placed on the four walls of the church’s meeting room corresponding to these themes, and pages with subheadings were attached.

For example, the pages for service in the community included subheadings such as hunger, immigration, health and aging, and education and jobs. Similarly, the pages for church included subheadings for worship, committees and groups. Each page was divided horizontally to reflect current activities and hoped for involvement.

Following weekly discussion session for a month, members placed as many Post-it notes on the appropriate pages as they wanted. The Post-it notes were color coded: yellow = passive involvement (“keep me informed”); green = “I want to study this;” blue = active involvement; and orange = “I am a leader and initiator.” Members put their initials on their Post-its. We stressed that if you put your name up on something that doesn’t mean you are obligated to be the committee chair.

The six-week process began with a small group in discussion for an hour before services, but it grew in size each week. For the last two sessions, the poster pages were moved to the fellowship hall, and following worship, members of the core group explained and assisted the entire congregation in adding to the posters. Eventually they covered the length of one wall. Written summaries were prepared several times and share with the congregation.

Here is what we found. Sonoma United Methodist Church is active and diverse. Sixty percent of the families help with worship or participated on committees and in church groups. Forty percent of families participate in community service activities in our community, such as teen services, feeding the poor, or advocating for social justice. These are not United Methodist programs, but United Methodists translating their faith into service, often in leadership roles. The largest unmet need was for spiritual growth.

The summary of this project informed our new pastor. It also stimulated five new initiatives: a support group for those on personal spiritual journeys; workshops on listening, welcoming, and other skills for Christian living; a comprehensive review of the needs and means for communication in the church; a series of speakers on social issues; and a coordinator for service in the community.

Some lessons learned:

  • The church is more diverse and involved than anyone knew.
  • Go slow. Group self-discovery is a personal growth process.
  • We have unmet needs.
  • Honor others’ perceptions. Do not put people in boxes; notice where they see themselves as belonging.

*Chambers can be reached at dchamber@pacific.edu.



  1. Paul Edward

    I greatly admire the United Methodist Church even though I have been a member of the Episcopal Church most of my life. I consider myself both a Socialist and a Christian. There is nothing incompatible with that! I know that many progressive Methodists are heart-broken about the conservative direction they UMC is taking. The increasing influence of largely conservative African delegates, is a cause for concern when it comes to marriage equality, gay ordination, abortion rights ( which the UMC is a founding member), etc… I would urge my progressive Methodists brothers and sisters, to take a look at the Episcopal Church for inspiration and guidance. We are probably the most inclusive denomination and embrace ALL of God’s Children-there is no litmus test to become a member of the Episcopal Church.

  2. Jonathon Edwards

    Largely conservative African delegates – the ones who missionaries took the Word of God to years ago and THEY hold fast to the Word of God, deciding NOT to change just because society say that is what they are supposed to do. Thank God for those brothers and sisters who STAND FIRM on the Word of God. Not only Africa, but Asia and Latin America as well.
    I pray that more will stand up for God’s Word and not let it be trampled on. The United Methodist Church is open to all as well. When you become a Christian, you receive Christ into your life. He forgives your sins and asks you to sin no more. We are to change from our “old” lifestyle and take hold of the “new” life in Christ that we now have.
    When we stumble and fall He is there to take our hand and help us get up, dust ourselves off and continue on the path that He holds for each one of us.

  3. glen williams

    Sorry Paul, I disagree with you. I’m very conservative on marrage, which I think is what the bible teaches. But I do support a split in the. Umc. I see no other way around this issue.

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