2014 was a challenging year. 2015 will be a testing year.
2014 was the first time in four years that our church didn’t grow in membership and worship attendance. 2014 also saw some sad partings: Alex Banks and Ben Longabaugh left as Youth Pastor and Band Director respectively, and we were affected by the deaths of two loved one, Dan Wright and Debby Brown. We also lost several members to relocation and several to disagreement about denomination. We did have several important wins, and I’ll mention those, but I think it’s healthy to first acknowledge these challenges.
The Natural Church Development survey we took might explain why we stagnated in 2014. While our overall ministry continues to get stronger (this year we scored 63, which puts us in the top 20% of the 10,000 churches who use NCD), the survey also revealed two needs:
1) we need a compelling vision for our ministry
2) we need fire for personal evangelism
The elders and ministry leaders have met to address those deficits and you’ll see this reflected in our goals for 2015. These goals will test whether we have the faith to follow Christ into new territory. Personally, to me these new directions feel both daunting and yet right to me. Jesus is asking us to step out of the boat and walk on the water with him.
Some of the wins include:
• We paid off the mortgage (yahoo!)
• 73 people took part in Taking Root, getting us nearer our goal of 100 people participating in the “ABC’s”
• The Confirmation Class ran The Church Revival, their own church for teens
• We settled the denomination issue, at least for now, by deciding not to try to leave the PCUSA. The high fee was the main reason.
• We hired David Morreale as our new Youth Pastor
• 7 children completed an uplifting First Communion
• We made building and sound upgrades
It helps to remember the wins because challenges can sap our will to win. But this kind of challenge also brings out the best part of me – and you. Scripture says “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). I find that encouraging. We’re in a real battle with real hardships on behalf of a real king who offers fantastic rewards. This is what I’ve given my life to.