As most all of you know, we are in the middle of a vision process. Our vision team (Emily Callahan, David Hankins, Mike Ward, Linda Marks, Paul Martin, David Richardson, Jennifer Kellett), along with our staff and various committee chairs, has been hard at work behind the scenes. We are on target to present a vision plan to you in the upcoming fall, but offer you the following report in the meantime.
We appreciate the participation by the congregation in our Vision Day this spring. We received lots of good information and ideas and are hard at work on exciting plans for the future. This is a challenging period in the life of our church. We are a vibrant congregation and have celebrated successes and milestones recently, including our 175th anniversary this year. Our church is sound financially due to the sacrificial giving of many. At the same time we are not oblivious to the fact that offerings and attendance have been declining in recent years. The plans we are developing will begin to address challenges and opportunities, as well as emphasize core values that bind us together as a church family. As the Vision Team continues their work, many of you have asked what you can do to help our church.
Four things every member can do now are…
- Pray. Remember your church every day. Pray for our pastor, our staff and ministries. Pray for our Vision Team. Pray that we will totally depend on God to lead our congregation to make wise decisions that will allow us to minister and worship together as a family of faith for generations to come.
- Attend. Your attendance is more important now than ever before. Attending worship is your most visible expression of your love for First Baptist Church. More of our members in worship enhances our sense of community and improves the worship experience for our congregation and visitors. We ask that you make church attendance a priority. If you attend 35 Sundays a year, would you make an intentional effort to attend 40 Sundays over the next year? If you usually attend about 40 services a year, would you commit to 45? Etc.
- Give sacrificially. We are facing key staffing changes. With the departure of Scott and Kim Looney, we are looking at how we will staff key ministry areas for the future. An important component of the decisions will be the finances necessary to attract new ministry talent with skills that complement those of current staff and the needs of our congregation. A tangible, immediate way to help us plan for the future is to increase your giving now. Giving involves time as well as money. If you spend an hour a week ministering to fellow church members, would you consider investing two hours? If you give two hours now, would you consider three? We are all ministers. Being intentional in our efforts to minister to each other, our community and our world will make our church stronger.
- Invite. We love First Baptist. It is special to us. God comes alive for us in worship, study, community, and service. And we are not unusual. Others need such a church. And we need the influx of new talent and ideas energy that others would bring us. Think of one person, one couple, one family you could invite. It’s simple math. If we all brought one person to church, our numbers would double.
As we dare to face the larger challenges before us, let us rise to these simple challenges now. God is faithful. God has provided before. God will provide now and in the future. So, let us be faithful as well. God still has important work for us to do as a congregation. We will not be discouraged. We will lift each other up, seek God’s will for our church, and be ever open to new possibilities on the horizon.
This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge
and originally published in the July edition of Together