Visioning Can Mean Change
Visioning Takes Time and Courage
Churches are built through the fervent, faithful proclamation of Christ and him crucified.
Our church is in transition. The truth is, we have been in transition for years if not decades. When I came to this church over two years ago, I was given a mandate—help our church grow. You can’t read an article on the internet about any church and not read about their desire to grow, but I felt there was an opportunity at First Presbyterian Church of Stuart and I still feel that way.
I’m not much of a gardener, but what I have learned over the years about trees and shrubs is that if you want them to grow up to be beautiful and robust, they must first be pruned or cut back. I don’t offer this simile for the church in that we must cut back and prune in order to grow, but rather an understanding that trees and shrubs grow when their growth is focused. Trees and shrubs grow when they are prepared in a healthy way grow exponentially.
The session and I have been having conversations about the growth of the church. The first thing we have tried to redevelop in the church is creating a healthy environment by implementing healthy practices and being good stewards of our resources was important to us. You all experienced some of those practices earlier this year when we rolled out the budget. We worked to trim our budget and become more fiscally healthy church. Our spending this year has reflected this newfound health.
As the vision of our church has slowly rolled out, it should be noted that everything you experience as change today reflects an effort to move the church to healthy practices and healthy change that will enable our church to live out the future God has laid out before us. When I came to this church, I earned that the mission of the church is to “know Jesus Christ and make Him known”. That’s a great mission. There are some things our church has been doing for some time that supports that vision. My hope would be that ALL that the church is and does supports it’s mission statement.
This past Spring, the committee structure was revamped, which led to some confusion and consternation. Let me suggest that this realignment of the committee structure in no way changes the mission of the church, but rather enhances the focus of the church. Our church is no different that many other churches today in that remaining focused in what has always been done deters the vision as to what needs to be done for others to want to join in the mission with us. It comes back to being a healthy church. Our church must be engaged in healthy practices in order to attract those that are yet to come. It isn’t that the practices of the previous committee structure was unhealthy, but rather the previous structure didn’t point to the mission of the church. Research suggests that those that are not attending a specific church today is because they do not sense the church being the hands and feet of Christ. Those that aren’t a part of a church want to be a part of a vibrant community that loves others to love Jesus Christ. Our new committee structure enables our church to focus on caring for the church as it has been developed over the years, but it also points us in a direction that enables others to see through our actions what we are about.
We have gone from 10-12 committees to focusing on four. We still have the administrative needs of caring for our buildings and grounds. Those new committees are as follows:
We still have needs to accounting for our assets and income statements. Rather than those assignments being separate committees they will be a part of the Stewardship Committee portraying the vision that we are to be good stewards of what God has laid out for us to utilize for His Kingdom work.
All churches are called to be on mission with Christ. Our new Mission Committee will help us focus our efforts of loving others to love Jesus Christ. There are some efforts currently being done within our church. The hope is that this committee will be able to coordinate and involve more people in mission.
“Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” (Matthew 18:10) The more opportunities we have to gather and enjoy our Lord together, the better. The Fellowship Committee will entail discipling opportunities, children and youth opportunities, dinner gatherings, coffee hours, bible studies and anything excuse we can think of to gather.
Finally, focusing on worshiping our loving God needs to be done well and with everyone in mind. Our Worship Committee will engage our congregation in more ways than merely Sunday morning. Our Worship Committee will engage out congregation in more ways than Sunday mornings and a couple of cantatas. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Working out the kinks for this committee restructuring will take time and patience. The effort as mentioned is to redirect our focus outwardly rather than inwardly. We will always love those who are here, but the mission of our church, as well as all churches, needs to be focused on those that are not present.
I’d like you all to know that none of these changes are being considered or even implemented in a vacuum as all changes, as difficult as change is to us all, is strictly for the benefit and health of this church. Those of you who have been with this church for a great deal of time will understand when I suggest that you deserve health to be restored to the church you love so much. All of the efforts I am undertaking has this in mind. When it comes time for me to retire, I would like to be able to introduce a new pastor to this healthy and vibrant church for the next generation to enjoy and help flourish.
There are many things I cannot promise as a pastor, but this I can promise you—I will always endeavor to seek God’s Will for our church and do everything I can to encourage the great leaders we have been gifted with to bring health back to this beautiful church.
I will also do my best to communicate with the congregation the progress we are making as a community and any changes that will come. Change is inevitable, but that word for us will be a positive word rather than a bad word.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11
Grace and Peace,