I wish you could have been a fly on the wall at our staff meeting last Tuesday. I noticed energy and eagerness from all parties to advance the cause of worshiping and serving God here at 1st Congregational. We have such a gifted, competent, and willing staff that really wants to make a difference. Adding Justin to our mix as youth minister heightens the anticipation of great things.
Yet a different theme resonated: being on the edge of something better, and unable to reach it. Kate addressed the decline in Church School attendance and having to combine into smaller classes. Some education lay leaders express concern. I asked Kate if we see the children of the leaders as regular attenders. She said no. We need parents to bring their young whenever they are in town and not sick. And we need parents to choose their spiritual formation over sports.
Dan spoke next. Similarly, he hears good will expressed around having our Junior Choir. He hears this every year. After all, it is great for us to hear them sing on Sundays. And learning the songs they sing is of incredible benefit in their own Christian formation. He could easily have ten children involved. No few families profess interest. But as Dan leads rehearsals, he gets only three. Believe me, ten children are emboldened to sing very differently than a paltry three.
I spoke next. Do you recall the large new member classes we have had over the last 22 months? People everywhere in the church express great fondness for welcoming in new and enthusiastic cohorts. But having received the pent-up demand accumulated over the interim period, when visitors were in a wait-and-see mode, we are not attracting guests as we were before. Did you know that 75% of church growth comes from member invitations? I like to say it’s the job of the laity to invite guests and bring newcomers; it is the job of the staff to be ready when they come.
Our eagerness to serve is tempered by these realities. But guess what? After our staff meeting, I called a member to serve on our Pledge Committee. She was busy making her rounds, but gladly took my call. I described the real needs to elevate our giving for priorities we see in 2014. “If my pastor calls me and needs me to do something,” she answered, “I am willing to do it.” You could have knocked me over with a feather. She will show up. We need more of this. In the Old Testament, whenever God calls someone, the standard response is, “Here am I! Send me!”
Sometimes serving on boards or committees, we imagine our job is to make policy for invisible others, who will put in the time and effort to do the ministry. This board/ committee mentality is an illusion. I prefer a team ministry approach. Here we don’t pass motions for some unnamed others to mobilize into reality. No, here the captains are also the foot soldiers making it happen.
Put otherwise, we don’t need anyone to bring great ideas for FCC, Darien for others to put in place. We have lots of ideas. We need more leaders with their own skin in the game, involved!