we're not in kansas anymore

One of the charter members of my congregation, way back in 1953, used to pray before each Sunday School class, "Dear Lord, may we grow and prosper." We have. But I think there is yet more substantial growth in our future, though it may not look like the kind of growth those charter members envisioned 52 years ago.

I am somewhat overwhelmed at times by this call to grow. I think, in many ways, we have all the pieces we need, save the intestinal fortitude of the pastor! Our church leaders are praying about proposing (and likely will) a new constitution, a move from the Council form to the Leadership Team form. We have some long range plans and a Building Committee as we are maxing out our space and parking. But, at the same time, we have some real challenging budget issues. Our income has not really grown in the last four years, even though our dreams for ministry and how to spend that income have! What are we to do?

It seems to me there are only three choices. We can do nothing and just accept ourselves as we are (which, I think, really means we will go backwards and die, not forward and live); we can go to two services to increase our growth, budget and therefore better enable ourselves to fund some of the building and program options we envision; or we can go straight to building something, which will require no small amount of (heretofore) unseen capital, and even more faith.

In addition to all of this, small groups loom large on the horizon if we are to become the kind of church many of us believe God wants us to become. If we go in this direction, it will likely mean a monumental shift in how we "do church". In short, it feels to me like an overwhelming amount of change headed our way and I feel rather small and insignificant (O me of little faith!).

What we need is some strategy and a plan. Where to start? How to get there? If anyone reads this and has some wisdom (I'll even take a sign from God or direct revelation if you have it!) on these issues, I'd love to hear from you, assuming someone's reading these things.


At 12:40 AM, Blogger theultrarev said...

I forget which movie it is from, but I believe that Cheech Marin has words of encouragement for you: "You can do it!"

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Dinger said...

Wow, that is quite a bit to think about.
Now, I have to ask you about the Kansas/Oz referral: Are you saying that you feel like we've been hit by a "twista" and have been knocked off our foundations? If that's the case, good thing we landed on the wicked witch! On the other hand, you could be thinking this is all a dream, and perhaps we will wake up again in our own rooms, our comfort zones? I am kind of big on subliminal analogies, so please excuse my analysis.
Just a couple thoughts, since you asked...
- When I think of church growth, I think of a growth in depth of relationships. If that happens, the growth in numbers happens as a bonus. I always imagine if there is any "call to grow," as you put it, God's call is to grow in depth. Maybe that is what you meant when you said this growth would be different than what your parishoner prayed 52 years ago.
- A funny little tip: I was told once that when we use the word "overwhelmed," it is often a sign that we are taking on responsibilities that we ought not have. A good clue to let go of some things.
- Do small groups have to "loom" like bad weather? Did you ever read Miracle in Darien and see what God did through small groups for that church? (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0882704273/104-1471112-7459106?v=glance&n=283155)
- Who is responsible for Monumental Shifts? Who can move mountains? In that way, we are all "insignificant," but we are not inadeqate with God working through us. You have so many people behind you, more than you know, more than you can probably sense.
I am enthused, excited, and really looking forward to what will happen. The strategy is prayer, sharing, forgiveness, encouragement, obedience, courage and faith. God will do great things with very, very little.

At 1:24 PM, Blogger stacey said...

Nancy, you have a lot to say, too. A few quick thoughts.

We're not in Kansas means we're experiencing something entirely new and it's not always easy to tell whether it's a dream or not, really. All I know is, it feels like something entirely different that will need different approaches to ministry and mission. The phrase just popped in my head and I went with it. I had forgotten how MUCH it could mean!

Growth means both depth and breadth to me. I agree, if we grow deep we will grow larger, too. But, when I pray for growth I mean both. I don't think there is anything wrong with praying for growth in numbers if it means more will come to know Jesus and grow in him.

Being overwhelmed, for me, is probably not a matter of doing some stuff I shouldn't be doing, but not being able to break it down into smaller steps. I tend to see everythig at once and that's what makes me feel overwhelmed. However, I have no doubt that some things will have to go as well.

Small groups "loom" because to cause them to work like they need to work will indeed cause a storm for those who aren't used to a church of small groups. I think a huge chunk of the way in which we are "doing" church will have to change. And that is what "looms". If I have to let go of some things, others will have to let go of even more.

I appreciate your words, thoughts, challenges and questions, Nancy. I also appreciate your enthusiasm and words of encouragement. Thanks.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Luke said...


I found this, from meditations on "Sieze the Day"

Being Thankful for the Small Things

"Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gift he has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience and love that has been given to us."—LIFE TOGETHER

Being thankful for the small things does not mean that we simply settle for small things. We can dream and work toward the greater and more significant. But these things don't come our way by grasping after them. The greater comes from the process of growth and growth always has its small beginnings. It is our positive and thankful response to the seemingly small things that sets us on the road to greater achievement.

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, always give thanks for everything to God the Father.”

Ephesians 5.20 (GNT)

Lord, grant that in the small things I may be thankful, and in the big things I may not lose my appreciation of what You do. Amen.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger stacey said...

Amen again, brother Luke.


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