21 June, 2018

Ask the Question

We ran out of time for a number of questions asked in worship on April 15. Here is the next installment on responses to those questions.

You have been here almost 5 years. How much have we changed? What still surprises you about us?

As of today, June 21, I have been the pastor and teacher of FCCLG for 4 years, 2 months, and 2 weeks!  I jumped in with both feet running during the busiest week of the Christian year:  my first Sunday was Palm Sunday, April 7, 2014.  

I came with a specific call to lead the congregation into being a 21st Century church by following through with the Alban Plan the congregation had adopted in the previous pastorate before I arrived.  The plan involved a major change in the structure of the congregation’s leadership, increased lay leadership in each ministry area of the congregation, expanding the financial participation of the membership and financial transparency by the leadership, and expanding our non-member use of our building and space on both an occasional and exclusive use basis. This has been the planning basis for most of what I’ve been doing.

All of these changes are Cultural changes.  Cultural changes in any group generally take at least 10 years to actuate. So we have some way to go yet.

We have made significant progress. We have filled the building with organizations sharing space.  We have changed software and reporting systems so that information is available in understandable and comprehensive formats; we need to find methods to regularly get this information into the hands of members, however.  We have a significant number of new donors, but we need to increase the number of members who give -- as well as look for other sources of income.  We have many new volunteers in our ministries, but are challenged to “fill the slots” on our ministry teams and leadership committees.  And while we’ve learned that we can’t depend upon paid staff to do as much as it did 10 years ago (when there were many more paid staff!), volunteers are not always forthcoming to do the work formerly done by staff.

The culture of the congregation IS changing!  We are making progress in each of these areas. 

I believe the culture is also changing in how we view the role of our faith in our everyday lives.  I am hearing people talk about their struggles to live faith-based lives in a world that often seems to lean toward injustice and oppression.  I think we are more aware of our privilege and our prejudices and are trying to engage in ways to work for equality and compassion.  I hope that we are moving more toward being the church than “going to church.”

After over 30 years in ministry, I have found ministry with and beside each of you to be more engaging, challenging, joyful, and rewarding than any of the congregations I’ve served.  I believe that I have found a home in your our church home.

Have a question about faith, the Bible, the Church, our congregation?  Submit it here and look for a response in a future Tidings.