Where are we?
One of the workshops that I attended at my conference in Kansas City last week dealt a little with life cycles of churches. I have heard some of the material before but it is powerful and really hit me this time. They are basically begining/growth, built/plateaued and dying. Or Stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3. In stage 1 a church is future oriented, you are willing to take risks, your vision dominates your thinking, planning and decisions and your growth is manily through conversions. In stage 2 your church is present oriented, you take few risks, your goal is to keep things going and your growth, if any, is transfer growth. In stage 3 your church is past oriented, you are reactive instead of proactive, there is no growth, you are dominated by a core and the most common phrase is "I remember...". One of the statements that the presenter made was that "you never go up naturally off a plateau, you go down naturally, but you must reinvent to go up from there".
I know that we are not in stage 1, the church went through a split a few months before I arrived which I guess but it danger of being in stage 3, but I believe we are in stage 2. We are really beginning to "reinvent" ourselves which means we have the opportunity to return to stage 1. But I have to be honest as I evaluate things and that means admitting that at best we are in stage 2 right now.
I have been sensing, and so have a few others, that God was building up to something in our church and community. I am praying that Sunday was a glimpse of that something and we can really start moving back toward stage 1.
I have been processing a message on my, hopefully from the Lord, vision for this church. I am anticipating preaching it on Sunday March 25. If you already pray, for me please pray that I will correctly discern God's vision and presnt it clearly and powerfully. If you don't pray for me, now would be a great time to start.
Here's hoping that we will return to being a stage 1 church soon. Here's hoping that the church you attend is in stage 1, or that you can pray and work to help it reinvent to get off the plateau or decline.