As you may remember during my sermon this past Sunday, I told you about a new book that I am reading called, I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church, by Paul Nixon. Let me tell you something, this book is simply incredible.
The book came recommended to me by the new pastor at my former church, Broadway UCC. The new pastor, James Campbell has since led a small group book study of the book and his church is now blossoming, or growing like a weed!
As many in our church might be offended to imply that we're dying, in truth, we're not. As you can testify (and as others continue to do so), we're actually thriving. Worship attendance throughout the year has quadrupled over the past two years and everyone can feel the energy and aliveness. We're raising money, donating money, creating new programs, and reaching out in some ways to our community. However, I am convinced that we're at a precipice. While great things have been happening, we've actually only been preparing ourselves for the magnificent journey that awaits us. That journey will be about reaching out--and as a result, growing our faith and congregation in new and surprising ways.
Just look what we've accomplished in this past year: We went through the Open and Affirming discernment process and voted to declare ourselves an Open and Affirming congregation; We reviewed and approved our new Constitution and by-laws, thereby radically changing how we organize ourselves and do ministry; We've remodeled and updated the church building; We approved the formation of a new Board called the Board of Outreach. In all the areas of change we've worked on--now we're more prepared than ever to begin to apply our faith, impact our community, and grow our congregation. How we accomplish this will begin with a vision, an identity, and a purpose. Let me invite you to read Nixon's book and see where it leads you and how it inspires you.
As you rest this summer, let me encourage you to also daydream. Let this time be one of reflection and focus as we determine how we can promote the Good News in ways that are not confrontational and yet, are also transformational at the same time. I believe this book will help us begin the conversations necessary as we find ways to grow.