This has been a great Saturday! After a morning devotion and prayer, Joelle and I took our jack russell, who likes to chase rabbits, on a walk at our lakefront park. She didn't catch any, but if dogs could smile, she was beaming. I helped my neighbor move furniture, and later Joelle and I learned how to make beef stroganoff and enjoyed a nice sit down dinner together. The better part of this day, however, was spent writing Thank You's and packaging up the crowdfunding gifts for our campaign that Castle Church recently launched! Your support...
I've been amazed at the positive response Castle Church has received online since launching out campaign. Within one short week of publishing our mission video on Facebook, it has been shared by 137 people around the country and reached over 13,000 people! Many of you reading this chose to like or follow us on social media after watching, and many of you were inspired to pledge your support for the crowdfunding campaign. Thank you. One short week after publishing that same video to YouTube, it has already received over 15,500 views! Primarily because many of you are helping to spread the word about the mission and ministry of Castle Church, our website has averaged over 9,000 hits a week for over a month straight, and 60% of those hits are from return visitors! Whether you understand the internet data or not, the takeaway is this: The ministry model of Castle Church resonates with people who are hungry to hear how Good News breaks into every day life. They are attracted to a community where people who are questioning faith can find it and people who have found faith can question it. There is a whole group of people interested in experiencing what it means to participate in God's mission of reconciliation for Creation, and experiencing the Means of Grace in alternative and exciting ways.
Aside from social media, Jared and I have have been busy with things like organizing our ministry activities, planning and facilitating group meetings, brewing beer, discerning and praying, lining up vendors and contractors that will help with the physical build-out, and doing interviews for print, radio, and online media....and there will be much more to come. More importantly than PR, are the personal stories and emails we receive on a daily basis that tell us about the hope Castle Church represents for lives of those in our community and beyond. For many it is hope for a caring community; to live their faith and serve others. For some it has been the hope of good beer too! Just last week we received a Beer 4 Life membership pledge from a craft beer lover named Janie who found out about Castle Church from her brother-in-law. Included was a note saying she can't wait to meet her family and friends at Castle Church and that her brother-in-law said he was interested in exploring some of our faith community activities despite not attending church for over 15 years! Yesterday, I received a pledge from Chuck, who is gifting a Mug Club pledge to his grandson who "loves beer and would benefit from the kind of community Castle Church is committed to fostering."
Do you have a family member, friend, or colleague with whom you can share the vision for Castle Church? Are there three people in your life with whom you can spread the word about what we're trying to accomplish together? Word of mouth is the best way to increase awareness, and you may help a few more people get "plugged-in" if they hear what Castle Church means to you and why you support our ministry. We need you to help us be effective in "Brewing Community. Fermenting Love."
Please consider asking two to three people in your network to find out more about Castle Church on our website, or even to support the startup campaign at: www.castlechurchbrewing.com/development
Financial and campaign support are always helpful and very needed, but the Castle Church community is keenly aware of the importance of prayer. Some of our startup supporters said they put a card up on their refrigerator and regularly pray for Castle Church and those we serve (and will serve). I love hearing about the prayers for this ministry and am strengthened and motivated just knowing the love and support that backs all we do in this community. Thank you. Thank you very much.
However you choose or are able to continue your support of Castle Church, know that we are all grateful for your involvement in this new ministry model, and welcome you to participate as you are able. Let us know how you are being called to get involved or to serve. The Holy Spirit is working in and through the community at Castle Church and you have a part to play!
From a grateful heart,
Aaron Schmalzle is a mission developer in the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA and, along with Pastor Jared Witt, is a Founding Director of Castle Church Brewing Community and Castle Church Faith Community.