Rev. Kathi's Message
Our Congregational Growth and Development Team has a huge mandate – to try and find a way to grow our faith family when almost every other church in North America has stopped growing or is in decline. It can be disheartening.
At a time when the world seems to be falling apart, the church isn’t any different. Attendance in many places is shrinking, not growing. Even committed members are attending less often. Young leaders aren’t exactly flocking into ministry – currently there are more active ministers who are over 65 than there are under 40 - think about that . And often we shoot ourselves in the foot, with everything from
to hypocritical behavior to judgementalism.
So, where do we look for hope when we could so easily get discouraged about the future of the church?
Writer Carey Nieuwhof says that there are some characteristics that will be true of all churches that grow in the future. The more closely we align with principles like these, the more likely it is we’ll reach more people. Of course, prayer and scripture are foundational.
Here are some of the characteristics that Pastor Nieuwhof believes might really help churches grow and, interestingly, they align pretty closely with the 4 core congregational values that our discussions identified:
The truth about our culture is this: thanks to an abundance of technology, we have never been more connected as a culture before, and we’ve never felt more lonely. We know our neighbors less than we ever have before. And it’s really hard to love someone you don’t know.
People may have friends, but few have deep friendships, friendships that can carry the weight of life and faith and hope and meaning and existence.
The church hasn’t done a great job of community in the past. We claim to be friendly, but that usually only means we’re friendly to each other.
The truth is the real mission of the church is relationship. It defines the vertical nature of our faith (love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength) and the horizontal essences of Christianity (love your neighbor as yourself). If anyone can get relationship right, it should be the church.
Thanks to our devices, we are also drowning in a sea of information and we have no idea what to do with it. But we are in a crisis of meaning and purpose. The challenge for church leaders moving forward is not to produce
content. The challenge is to provide
All over our culture, there is a trend toward self-centredness: the “what’s it for me?” attitude. Some have noted that we have lost our social concept of “the common good.”
The Gospel offers a powerful counterweight to selfishness; it calls us to put others first. Sadly, the church can be just as guilty as the culture when it comes to being self-focused. We can get obsessed with ourselves as easily as anyone. But we can intentionally choose to make it our mission to serve others. When churches do this, amazing things happen. Young adults – the demographic we say we most want to reach – are saying life defined by generosity and service to others (especially those in need) is increasingly important to them.
Hope sems to be in short supply in our current culture. We seem to do a great job focusing on the problem and pointing out the shortcomings and mistakes of others and very little time pointing toward a preferred future.
Our hope, grounded in reality, is the living antidote to cynicism, apathy and defeatism.
We’ve read to the end of the story. We know how this ends. Love wins. Faith wins. Hope wins. Real hope is what our hope-starved world craves.
Live the Mission
Our Mission is “to offer opportunities for all persons to experience the love of God through Jesus Christ.”
In order to breathe life into this statement, we have to be willing to make some changes to our idea of church. Taking away the parts that don’t work and replacing them with authenticity and inclusion. Because radical change outside the church demands radical change inside the church. And even if we don’t change the message or the mission that doesn’t mean we can’t change the methods.
An unwillingness to change is what’s fueling the decline and stagnation of 90% of all churches in North America. If we don’t change, irrelevance is a hairbreadth away.