A Different Kind of New Church: Everyday Sanctuary | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
June 2021

A Different Kind of New Church: Everyday Sanctuary

By Chris Wilterdink

Engaging young people in the process of discovery, faith formation, and spiritual practices can be challenging at the best of times. During a pandemic with lockdowns? That’s like turning the difficulty level up several settings. Fortunately, Rev. Abigail Browka found herself with a creative group of leaders and part of a system willing to experiment and allow new expressions of ministry to take shape. Going into 2020, the plan for Rev. Abigail was to plant a church . . . and then lockdowns took away that possibility. Through a process of listening to the needs of those around her and working alongside supportive connectional roles like district superintendents and conference staff, Rev. Abagail’s planned new-church-plant became an app and online community called “Everyday Sanctuary.” This new expression of church aims to engage people new to faith life in regular spiritual practices and to make connections that may lead to an eventual connection at an IRL (In Real Life) church.

I was excited to talk with Rev. Abigail to learn about this story and her current ministry through Everyday Sanctuary. It is worth allowing ourselves to explore new ways for ministry to look as we come back to in-person activities, and I am grateful for a connection with people willing to experiment and offer new ways of connecting with new people to support their discipleship. Read on to hear directly from Rev. Abigail about Everyday Sanctuary!

Everyday Sanctuary

By Rev. Abigail Browka

Most of us are looking for something more. We wish for meaning and connection while social distance and busyness has taken it from us. Have you ever longed for a simple way to connect to God?

I wanted an everyday kind of faith. The kind of faith that doesn’t live just in churches or with the right kind of people – but in everyday life, with virtual school, and long-distance friendships, loneliness, and frustration.

That’s why the Everyday Sanctuary mobile app was made; It allows five minutes for busy people to take a deep breath and connect with God.

Everyday Sanctuary is a free mobile app, available through all major app stores, that helps people engage a simple, personal, faith practice every day. Each five-minute practice includes deep breathing, presence, prayer, scripture, and gratitude.

Everyday Sanctuary serves as a steppingstone for people to dip their toe into faith. Through Everyday Sanctuary, in our increasingly unchurched world, faith becomes easily accessible, understandable, and personal without being individualistic. Everyday Sanctuary uses the powerful tool we all carry around with us (our phone) to engage faith through daily push notification, daily app practice, and social media. Churches, youth groups, student and young-adult ministries can use Everyday Sanctuary to engage people daily and connect with them personally to follow up about their prayers and gratitudes.

Americans check their phones every ten minutes.[1] Our phones are always with us. But with intention, we can bring the sacred into our everyday surroundings and help busy people practice their faith every day.

Right now, a free four-week series is available to introduce Everyday Sanctuary to your church or place of ministry. It includes four sermon staters, promotional videos, social media prompts, and thirty pieces of content you can tailor to your own context. You can receive the free four-week “Sanctuary” series by going to www.everydaysanctuary.com/4weekseries.

Everyday Sanctuary is led by ordained United Methodist Elder, Rev. Abigail Browka of the Upper New York Conference. Pastor Abigail lives off the beaten path with her inventive husband and amazingly aware toddler. Her purpose is to connect people to God.

[1] Asurion Research. “Americans Check Their Phones96 Times a Day” Asurion, https://www.asurion.com/about/press-releases/americans-check-their-phones-96-times-a-day.

Chris serves as Director of Young People’s Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Chris has a BA in English Education, and an MS in Project Management, and over 15 years of local-church youth ministry experience. He is passionate about leadership and faith development in young people and helping ministry leaders understand their value in the lives of young people. A Stephen Minister, Chris is a native of Colorado living in Franklin, TN with his wife Emily, 2 children, and sausage-shaped beagle.