Finding God

Finding God
On the pathway to Petra

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Talking Things Over with the Church

A path through boggy forest in Maine

Thus began, in early March 2017, a series of meetings with the Administrative Council and anyone else who wanted to attend and discuss the “new thing” the church might do.  This amounted to about a dozen people. When I met with them, I presented a number of options for the church to consider, as well as handing out a fact sheet with some pretty cold, hard facts for folks to consider. The facts included the probability of light rail construction, the steep decline of membership, the small number of those who were willing and able to do the work of the church, the low Sunday attendance (about 25), and the paltry number of visitors.

This church needs spiritual revitalization, I told them. It’s hard to define revitalization but it looks like: “a spring in our steps and a light in our eyes,” “hope rather than discouragement,” “earnest prayer,” and “an eagerness to discern and then get on board with the new thing God might be doing.”

I divided the options into “stay” and “go.” The first “stay” option did not include revitalization and was:  “Remain here and hope that we can continue doing the same things and somehow get different results.” This option seemed unattractive, but I figured it was the option many in the church really wanted because it required no effort.

 The second “stay” option was to cough up enough money to fund a full-time pastor position for three years minimum. The church could request a young, dynamic pastor and commit to supporting fully the pastor’s ideas for increasing discipleship and membership. Aldersgate has enough wealthy members to choose this option, but the church was not interested. I am not the right pastor to do this. I’m pretty sure anything more than half-time with a declining church would wreck my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

“Stay Option 3” was to change the worship time to Sunday late afternoon and seek out a large United Methodist church who was willing to try to establish an alternate campus in our facility. Things would change, including the worship time, the music, the worship format, and the people leading worship.  But I felt sure the church would grow; I have seen this happen. There was no interest at all in this option.

All of the "Stay Options" had to include the probability of light rail.

The only two “Go Options” I could think of were the ones I had discussed with church leaders and the district superintendent. These required selling the current property and either relocating to a house, or merging with a large church.  The D.S. (surprisingly) supported the house church option, I told them.

Surprisingly, so did Aldersgate.  But as I’ve said, liking an idea and actually doing what’s necessary to bring the idea to life are two very different things. 

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