Ministry Changes: A Letter from our Pastor
Dear Church Family:
Sunday I shared our strategy to expand our teaching, touching, and discipleship and I am grateful for your wonderful response. As your pastor, my goal is to lead our church to be as effective as possible in reaching people with the gospel, baptizing and discipling them. Everything we do must work toward that goal. We are facing multiple challenges right now that are driving us to rethink how we fulfill the goals of proclaiming, discipling, and serving.
First, we are out of space. On Mothers Day we had 717 in worship. We are consistently running about 150 in our children’s department. We are bursting at the seams in young families, and more babies coming all the time! Second, we have to get better at discipling new believers. Putting a new believer in a class where the teacher is teaching people who have been saved and learning the Bible for 30 years is definitely not the best way to do that. Third, we cannot build as many classrooms in our new building as we might want, so we have to prepare for a new Bible study structure in anticipation of the rooms we will have available. Fourth, we need to pray more.
Having carefully observed how other churches grow, the common denominator is most often an effective creation and use of small groups. While our facilities will always be limited, homes and other off-site meeting places provide us with unlimited opportunities. We are currently asking Sunday School classes to do everything—share prayer requests, pray, minister to one another in need, teach, disciple, outreach, and on and on. We think we will do a better job of teaching, outreach, and ministry if we separate those things a bit.
So our plan is to use Sunday mornings to teach a core curriculum program that we will ask every member to take and all new members to go through. These “master classes” will be large and have singles and couples, young adults and seniors, and will be a great way for our members to meet each other. We will always teach the core classes in rotation, but then we will offer advanced classes on deeper biblical, theological, or social issues. We can use this time for training for missions, evangelism, doctrinal studies—whatever the need. We fully intend to have some legacy classes that maintain the present format as well.
Change doesn’t come easy, but if we all keep our eyes focused on the goal of these changes—to glorify Christ and reach more people—then the relative inconvenience of the changes to our routine really seems worth it.
Sunday nights will be largely devoted to C-groups, the groups in community where fellowship, love, ministry, prayer, and encouragement take place. These will mostly be in homes, though they may be at other places or times as well. We want to organize these somewhat around natural affinities within our congregation such as where someone lives, but the key is that we get as many people in one as possible. Tanya and I can’t wait to start hosting a C-group which we hope to use as a training ground for others to lead or host. Dr. Paul Chitwood told me that their Sunday night participation grew 500% when they changed Sunday nights to small group time!
Wednesday nights will really beef up, too. We are moving Awana and choirs to Wednesday night (and yes, kids, we think we’ve figured out a schedule to do both). Prayer meeting, connect teams, special classes and family ministries will be featured in the middle of the week. I don’t have room to go into more detail here, but we will soon be giving you more, including a schedule for when these changes will begin.
What I am asking of you now is 1) PRAY! Elijah prayed, and God moved. Let’s pray that God will use this strategy mightily for His glory. 2) Be positive! Change doesn’t come easy, but if we all keep our eyes focused on the goal of these changes—to glorify Christ and reach more people—then the relative inconvenience of the changes to our routine really seems worth it. 3) Participate. Do what you can and do what you should as we bring this all together.
These are exciting days! I am confident that we are going to see a great work of God, so keep your chin up and your knees down!!!
Your grateful pastor,